Game, set, match for varsity girls

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New girls varsity tennis coach Geoffrey Ashley is talking to his team about their practice that day and their upcoming non-conference games. The players pictured above from left to right: junior Brigitte Shokouhi, junior Mimmi Karim, junior Jackie Hauser, senior Leah Suh, and junior Justine Elitzur.

Sophia Goldberg, staff writer

Geoffrey Ashley is ready to lead the varsity girls tennis team through the season. His experience in the sport will give the team a new look at the sport they play.

Tennis has been a tradition in Ashley’s family. He began playing tennis as a little kid. His relationship with his grandfather grew, especially as he taught Ashley how to play and then how to coach.

“I come from a long line of tennis players, dating back to my great-great-grandmother, who built the first clay court in Los Angeles in the early 1900s. My grandfather was a coach and gave me my first racquet when I was two. When I was younger, most of our visits were centered around playing and watching tennis, and, as we got older, that changed to discussing tennis. We would talk about technique, playing styles, strategy, coaching, etc. Tennis was always a great way for us to stay close. We shared a passion for the sport,” Ashley said.

Ashley’s grandfather instilled many good qualities, not just for tennis, but for everyday life as well.

“I think more than any specific tennis technique, he instilled in me confidence and an appreciation for hard work,” Ashley said.

Sophomore Dominique Petrie is optimistic about the coming season. With the new coaching staff and their coaching techniques and drills, she believes the team will develop important skills for each match.

“Ashley’s drills are good. They help me with the wearer parts of my game, such as my volleys and ground strokes. I think that our team is going to improve a lot because of these new drills. They really help with our consistency from match to match,” Petrie said.

Ashley believes the team is transitioning well over to his different style of coaching, which includes many practice matches of varying amounts of sets to prepare the team for the season and improve their technique level. He believes they are learning and enhancing their performance with every practice.

“So far, I think [the team] reacts pretty well to the new drills. I think we’re still getting to know each other, but they react really well. I want to have them do lots of match play, lots of point play and lots of conditioning and working on stroke production,” Ashley said.

Ashley has high expectations for this year’s varsity team, but he is also looking into the future of the girls           tennis program.

“I would like us to do really well this year; I’d like us to go far. If we can make it through CIF, that would be fantastic, but I’m mostly looking to build a strong team and definitely work towards having a really strong team for the next few years,” Ashley said.

Ashley’s plans for the future of the tennis program are based on strengthening the tennis players’ skill level and mental awareness during the game.

“We have some very talented players, and in addition to practicing our stroke production, conditioning and strategy. We need to work on developing our mental fitness. Tennis is an extremely mental game; we need to strengthen our confidence and learn to play more aggressively so we can play up to our full potential,”         Ashley said.

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