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The Mirror

The student website of Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

What the racket is all about

A PARRY AND A SCORE Senior and varsity player Eric Heng competes against Kennedy on March 13. The game is part of the team’s 12 game winning-streak throughout the spring semester, with an end score of 7-0.

Nervously awaiting his turn, freshman William Lima tightly gripped his racket. Coach Min Woo So instructed him to begin, and he positioned himself to serve the ball. However, it sailed over the fence and hit a parked car.

“I was like, there is no way I am getting on the team,” Lima said. “I just kept watching videos and kept practicing, just to show that I cared even if I wasn’t that good.”

When the roster for the 2021-2022 season was posted, Lima was taken aback. 

“My name was on the list,” he said.

From that point onward, Lima resolved to give it his all. 

“I was very nervous when I started,” he said. “I remember trying out and when I saw them hitting the tennis balls, I couldn’t even see the ball.”

Lima, who began playing tennis only in his junior year due to quarantine restrictions, now dedicates every day to practicing for the varsity tennis team as a senior.

“In freshman year I knew I wanted to join a sport, but I wasn’t sure which one,” he said. “Since a sport like tennis looks good in college applications, I decided to try out.”

Some players, like varsity player Daxon Bulimia, have been playing tennis seriously for two years, inspired by their tennis-playing parents. On the other hand, varsity player Sean Kim, who has been playing for five years, was introduced to tennis through video games.

“I first got into the sport because of Wii sports,” Kim said. “Just the atmosphere of being on a team drew me in.”

Every morning and afternoon, the team engages in rigorous practice sessions. They begin with warm-ups, followed by rallies (back-and-forth shots between players) and drills such as dribbling or serving under the guidance of Coach So.

Tennis is a highly strategic sport that places great importance on honing technique. Known for its complexity and demanding hand-eye coordination, it also presents the challenge of feeling isolated during a match.

“The most challenging part is that it’s a one or two person sport, so having a strong mentality is important,” Kim said.

While tennis enjoys popularity, its distinctiveness lies in the expectation of maintaining silence during a match. Unlike football or basketball, where cheering and screaming are the norm, tennis is a quiet sport.

“Some don’t even know we have a tennis team,” Lima said. “I would tell my friends I’m on the tennis team and they would ask if we even have courts. The courts are kind of hidden in the back of the school, so not many people know we have them.”

Tennis is widely regarded as a respectful sport, where loud cheering for the team is not acceptable during a game. However, clapping is allowed, and insulting or teasing the opponent is frowned upon, setting it apart from other sports. Following the match, the two players must shake hands, regardless of the match’s outcome.

“Not many people come to watch us play,” varsity player Joel Nam said. “I feel like it’s because they don’t know the etiquette of the sport.”

While the players wish they could focus more student attention on their sport, they take pride in the fulfillment of their hard work this season.

“I was so surprised to see that the new members were working as hard as us for the team,” Nam said. “It makes me very proud to know that people also have the same drive as us.”

Considering last year’s team consisted mostly of experienced seniors who have since graduated, Nam held little hope for this season’s team to make significant progress in the league. However, boasting an impressive overall record of 12-1, the team feels they have exceeded their wildest expectations.

“We went into this just wanting to have fun, but surprisingly we were winning,” Nam said.

Coach So notes the young team’s significant progress this year, earning a spot in the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) playoffs.

“This season has turned out really well, we really are doing our best,” Coach So said. 

According to players, Coach So’s guidance and support have been instrumental to the team’s development and surprising success.

“Coach So constantly reminds us to play to improve and have fun, and that winning would just be the cherry on top,” Nam said.

In addition to their achievements on the court, the team has also formed strong bonds among its members.

“We all get along because we are a bit weird,” said Coach So. “We are a good team.”

The team’s accomplishments extended beyond the playoffs as they secured a place in the CIF City Individual Finals. Van Nuys selected six players to represent them: Joel Nam, Daxon Beaumia, Sean Kim, sophomore Milap Joshi, sophomore Dubem Akapati, and sophomore Joseph Kim.

The players competed in paired matches against other schools. Unfortunately, in the first round, Kim and Joshi faced a highly competitive match against El Camino Real and narrowly lost.

“This tournament operates in a single elimination fashion,” Nam said. “You lose one round and you’re out.”

Throughout the tournament, they faced several opponents and showcased their resilience, ultimately advancing to the quarter-finals.

While the young team’s remarkable performance this season has brought great pride and honor to the school’s athletic program, it is their continued dedication, both on and off the court, that sets the stage for success in seasons to come. With each match, they have showcased their skills, resilience, and unwavering commitment to their sport.

“We have a lot more new members and more people in our junior varsity team,” Kim said. “We hope to improve a lot more in terms of skills, but I think there is a lot more potential in our team.  Most of the team is very close to each other and it only gets deeper as time goes on. We really are a tight bunch.”


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About the Contributor
Emely Arevalo
Emely Arevalo, Staff Writer
Emely Arevalo is a Sports writer. She is a junior in her first year of journalism. Besides studying journalism, she volunteers at a girls' camp where they teach young women to learn to play new instruments. She’s also in a band and plays the electric bass. She plans to take a gap year after graduation before settling in and knowing what she wants in life.
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