Photograph Courtesy of Sofia Jacob
Despite not having tennis courts to practice on at Berkeley High School (BHS), the girl’s tennis team has had a fantastic season, finishing with second place in their league with a 16-3 record, making this season one of the best the team has ever had. They are currently in the postseason, although scheduling has proven difficult due to the poor air quality from fires in Northern California. The postseason has been significantly drawn out because of the need to reschedule games.
The coach, Mary Bedford, and co-captain Sasha Turchak are very proud of the team and all they have achieved this season. Bedford and Turchak both mentioned the team’s strong bond and good sportsmanship. “They are a truly terrific bunch of young women, and it is a great pleasure to work with them. I can’t say enough good things about them,” Bedford said of the team. “It is a great pleasure to coach them, from starting as young freshmen and watching their tennis improve over the next four years.”
The team competed in the West Alameda County Conference (WACC) league sectionals this year. Doubles team Maya Curry and Cigan Valentine placed first for doubles, with co-captain Sasha Turchak and player Solia Valentine placing second and third for singles, respectively. Turchak noted that the players “cheer each other on and help each other with strategy, mental game, and techniques.”
One of the most significant issues the team is dealing with and has dealt with in the past is the lack of tennis courts at BHS. There used to be tennis courts on Milvia Street, but they were “temporarily” turned into a parking lot for BHS staff sixteen years ago. The team currently practices at the University of California Berkeley tennis courts on Channing Way, and share them with Cal’s tennis team. Not having an easily accessible place to practice is challenging and can make it difficult for team members to arrive to practice on time. However, “In the past, our whole team (usually around 25 girls) would have to squeeze on the three courts on Hopkins which was much worse. So this year we definitely upgraded,” Turchak acknowledged.
Unfortunately, the team has not received as much recognition as other sports teams at BHS, even with their remarkable record. Leah Wildmann, a sophomore on the team, said, “I think almost no one knows about girls tennis even though we are one of the best teams at BHS.” A lack of recognition can be frustrating considering how well the team has been doing.
Luckily, the issue of not having tennis courts on campus does not seem to impact the number of players interested in joining the team. Since there are no cuts to the team, anyone can play. Those interested in playing can inquire at the athletic director’s office. Tryouts for the next season start in August 2019.