Grossmont Hills tennis season lobs off to a competitive start

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Conference matches have begun for girls’ tennis and the ladies of the Grossmont Hills league are bringing both ferocity and friendship to the court.

Studded with outstanding programs like Steele Canyon, Valhalla, Monte Vista and Grossmont High School, the Hills league is apt to be the playing ground for some great competition this season.

On Sept. 9, Steele Canyon’s Cougars drove out to meet West Hills on the Wolfpack’s courts.

Conference matches have begun for girls’ tennis and the ladies of the Grossmont Hills league are bringing both ferocity and friendship to the court.

Studded with outstanding programs like Steele Canyon, Valhalla, Monte Vista and Grossmont High School, the Hills league is apt to be the playing ground for some great competition this season.

On Sept. 9, Steele Canyon’s Cougars drove out to meet West Hills on the Wolfpack’s courts.

West Hills Head Coach Lianna Spieldenner said she expected the match to be a good challenge for her girls.

“We’ve got a solid team this year,” she said. “But I think we’re going to see tough competition today from Steele Canyon because they’re always really good.”

West Hills did lose to Steele Canyon, 11-7, but not without putting up a fight. Doubles are the Wolfpack’s strength this year, according to Spieldenner, with agile powerhouses like Madison Schumann and Devyn Samson, West Hill’s V1 doubles team, leading the pack. Amanda Hinh and Vivien Panela, V2 doubles, put up a solid effort as well, despite the precision and smooth coordination of the Cougar’s varsity teams.

Spieldenner said winning means a lot to her team, but it is not everything.

“I’m happy as long as the girls are showing improvement every week,” she said as her team of 24 JV and Varsity girls warmed up behind her. “I tell them all the time that the primary goal is to be having fun out there.”

After losing 12 seniors at the end of last year, the Wolfpack has been sniffing around for new leadership.

Possibles include Varsity One singles player Caillie Roach and varsity doubles Samson and Schumann.

Roach said she is confident in the season, no matter what it brings, including their switch to a new league.

“I still think we’re going to have a strong team this year,” she said. “Every year we lose some people and this year we have a bunch of freshmen who are pretty good. It’ll be tougher though because we’ve moved up to the highest league.”

A new playing venue is not the only change for Roach, who is playing singles for the first time this season.

“For two years I’ve relied on having a partner and now it’s just myself, and singles dynamics are a lot different than doubles,” she said.

Varsity doubles team Schumann and Samson said they are excited about the influx of “fresh minds” on the team this year.

“We get to see new skill brought to the table,” said Schumann. “It’s different playing against different shots and seeing how other people work. A lot of tennis is a mental game and with new people, it’s really cool to have fresh minds.”

Samson agreed, adding that there are plenty of girls ready to step into the varsity role.

“I think the expectation is for us to teach the new girls what we do and how we do it,” she said.

Trust and team bonding are held in high regard, not just by the Lady Wolfpack, but by Steele Canyon’s Cougars as well, according to Cougar senior Jordan Blinn. 

“We’re good friends,” said Blinn of her teammates. “We all work really well together and we can support each other because we are comfortable helping each other.”

Blinn would know. She has been a vital part of Steele’s tennis program, having won league twice and getting MVP three years running. She is serving as their V1 Singles this season.

Steele Canyon plays at Helix on Thursday and West Hills travels to Valhalla.

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