The Moore League tennis season is underway amid unique circumstances this season, with both boys’ and girls’ tennis squads competing simultaneously. It’s been more than a year between girls’ tennis seasons as the traditional fall sport was pushed back to the spring due to COVID-19 schedule changes. Meanwhile, on the boys’ side, the league will be especially thin this year with both Cabrillo and Jordan unable to field teams.
The Poly Jackrabbits are seeking a seventh consecutive Moore League title this season, and appear to have the players and experience to get it done. Senior Ava Deguzman has had a terrific career in the green and gold, and will look to add to that resume in 2021. Deguzman won the Moore League singles title as a freshman, and has won three straight doubles titles with partner Kate Johnson.
She’ll need a new partner this time around, but Poly has a stable of veteran players to rely on during this belated season. Jackrabbits head coach Doug Schlueter says that he expects seniors Dylan Dempsey, Tara Rahai and Lola Underwood to join Deguzman in putting up numbers this year. He also expects big things out of freshman Imrie Betty.
“Our expectations this year are the same as always, and that is to win the Moore League for the seventh straight time,” Schlueter said. “I think our team’s biggest challenge was just waiting for the season to start. Getting players cleared is always a strain every year regardless of COVID, and we’ve had less practice time, but most of our players go to a tennis academy or have a private coach. So although we haven’t had a lot of time together, I feel that our girls will be ready.”
One of the top contenders to challenge the Jackrabbits this season is Wilson, where the Bruins are returning Moore League runner-up Maddie Tadd to the top of their lineup. Tadd reached the individual final last season, where she fell 6-2, 7-5 against then-sophomore Jodi Chang from CAMS. Tadd will be joined in the Bruins’ lineup by Izzy Wooden, Vivian Hall and Giselle Arrua. In doubles, Olivia Mancillas and Dani Uchio are expected to be the top pair for the Bruins this season.
At Millikan, longtime head coach Torie Frapwell is navigating the challenges of coaching both the girls’ and boys’ programs simultaneously, but she expects both teams to perform well this season.
“We are beyond excited to be back together in person and beginning to compete,” Frapwell said. “With the boys season getting cut short last year and the girls waiting more than a year since their last season to get back out there, we are just thrilled to be playing. I expect Poly and Wilson to be strong as always, but we are just focused on us right now.”
The Rams had a young team last season, and Frapwell expects that group to be stronger, calmer, and more mature this time around, led by junior Maya Alvarez, junior Jenny Robbins and sophomore Kailee Mazzeo.
Returning All-League singles player Sophie Vikram will lead the way for Lakewood, along with other top returners Mikaela Joya, Vienesse Datu, Hannah Delgadillo, Misty Valle, Aleena Gray, and Bianca Bunnel. Head coach Brian Vikram also expects contributions from newcomers Lana Birmingham and Shayna Martinez.
Aniya Aleem and Asucena Venancio will be the top players for Compton, while Cabrillo will have new girls’ head coach Al Olefer filling in this season. Due to low numbers, Jordan is unable to field a team in 2021.
While there was no boys’ tennis champion crowned in the Moore League in 2020, Poly will be looking to continue its run of four consecutive championships under head coach Ricardo Montecinos. But overall, the coach is just glad to have some normalcy back for his players.
“We’re just looking to get rust off and have fun,” said Montecinos. “It’s a different kind of season, and some families have gone through way more than others. Hopefully this will bring a little normal back to some of their lives.”
Captain and four-year starter Kimsan Phy will lead the singles lineup for the Jackrabbits, joined by fellow seniors Ryan Nguyen, Henry Tran, and Aidan Burke. Poly also has a solid group of returners in the junior class with Franco Fratovich, Carlo Reyes, Maxwell Cuellar, and Evan Tsai. Montecinos is high on freshman Markus Matiauda, who has already been turning heads.
At Wilson, Max Mayo will lead the singles lineup along with Ian McKeever and Michael Hu. The top doubles pair for the Bruins will be Julian Mancillas and Austin Pham. Like Frapwell, Wilson head coach Nick Medina is pulling double duty this spring with both boys’ and girls’ programs, but he is setting a high bar for both.
“The expectations for the teams this year is that they continue to push themselves to work hard despite all of the hardships and setbacks we have had this year,” Medina said. “We expect to provide strong competition for our Moore League rivals Poly and Millikan and compete for first place in the Moore League.”
The future appears bright at Millikan, where sophomore Andy Nguyen will finally make his Moore League debut this season. Nguyen started last season 18-0 in preseason play before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season, and Coach Frapwell is excited to see him showcase his talents.
“We expect to see him finish the season as one of the dominant singles players in the league,” she said. “He didn’t really get to show what he could do last year.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the league is struggling with a low number of participants. Lakewood head coach Tom McNamee has struggled to put a full varsity team together, but expects to get contributions from junior singles players Nathan Hershfield and Ryan Suque.
“I’m looking forward to being outside and giving my guys the opportunity to do something they enjoy doing,” McNamee said. “We may not be able to put up much of a fight due to a lack of players and experience, but we will have a great time doing it.”
At Compton, Anthony Holmes and Jonathan Hernandez are the top players for the Tarbabes, while neither Cabrillo or Jordan will field teams this season.