Published Nov. 2, 2023
BY LAUREN GALICIA
The Carmel varsity girls’ tennis team has had a blazing season this fall with a league record of 8-2, the team qualifying for the Central Coast Section team tournament, as well as talented individuals placing in the Gabilan Division Individual Tournament.
In the individual tournament at Stevenson on Oct. 31, Carmel played exceptionally with sophomores Odessa Peinado and Margarita Soffia winning first place doubles and senior Gia Panetta and junior Alyssa Moore winning second place doubles. Junior Ruby Myrold won second place singles, and freshman Meya Lin won third place singles.
Prior to that in a play-in against Gonzales, the team won an exhilarating match 7-0 on Oct. 24, qualifying them for the third consecutive year for CCS.
“Our team is even stronger this year,” says girls’ tennis head coach Leslie Tracy. “We have more depth…. We have some strong freshmen this year.”
The girls had a previous close 3-4 loss to league rival Stevenson. Their league record before that was 8-1, having already lost to Stevenson once. Last year the girls were league co-champions with Santa Catalina, holding a record of 9-1.
Because they placed second in Gabilan, the top PCAL division, they needed to win against the top team in Cypress, the third division, to qualify for CCS. The team prepared for a play-in against Gonzales.
They were aided by the return of their No. 1 singles player, Peinado, after an injury at the beginning of the season.
“Odessa hits the ball very hard and with a lot of topspin,” says Tracy. “She is often able to overpower her opponents.”
Peinado won the first set 6-1, while Gonzales’ No. 1 singles player gained momentum during the second set. Peinado met the Spartan head-on and secured the victory with a tiebreaker of 7-3.
All Carmel singles and doubles players won their games by a landslide and crushed the Spartans at their home court.
Soffia, who played No. 1 singles in Peinado’s absence and was No. 2 in the match against Gonzales, stayed focused and controlled, winning both sets 6-0. According to Tracy, Soffia is a steady player, biding her time until her opponent makes a mistake.
Peinado and Soffia, both sophomores, have led the team to many victories this fall.
“We have good sportsmanship,” says Soffia. “We talk a lot [and] they’re my friends.”
No. 1 doubles and undefeated in the league this year, Lin and Myrold played notably with a fast-paced ball and consistent cross-court and passing shots, winning 6-1, 6-3. Fellow freshman Ruby Iranmanesh and senior team captain Sofia Posadas, won their doubles 6-1, 6-2.
Contributing to the team’s success are the drills in practices, strong leadership and overall supportive environment.
“We always make sure to practice groundstrokes, practice serving,” says Panetta, the co-captain with Posadas. “It’s about consistency, which everyone has improved on in the season so far.”
The Padres practice on the Carmel tennis courts adjacent to Cabrillo Highway, where the sound of zooming cars is met with the bounces of tennis balls. Panetta explains that having a dedicated space and schedule to practice tennis surrounded by others with the same goal encourages growth as a player.
“Great leadership has gotten us very far because they’re always keeping the energy up,” says Lin. “Even if we lose the first few games…they’re still optimistic and [keep] the spirit up.”
The girls will compete in the CCS team tournament Nov. 6 with the location and opponent to be determined at the seeding meeting Nov. 4.