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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

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GAME BALL: Girls tennis co-captain earns Fullerton City Council award after finishing 58-0 in high school singles matches last fall

Image used with permission from Rosario Itzel Rodriguez
Girls tennis player junior Daniela Borruel (center) received her certificate of recognition alongside her two Sunny Hills classmates, who were also in attendance to receive their own certificates for being Adopt-A-Park volunteers, from the Fullerton City Council in City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

In honor of girls tennis co-captain junior Daniela Borruel’s recent success in keeping her unbeaten streak alive in singles and claiming her second CIF-SS Division 2 title along the way, the Fullerton City Council has given her a certificate of recognition.  

“I felt really proud to be recognized by the city, and that I was able to represent Sunny Hills and our community,” said Borruel, who is scheduled to play her next off-campus matches Monday, Feb. 27-Sunday, March 12, at the Universal Tennis Rating Pro Tennis Tour tournament in Long Beach.

The junior said she learned of the Tuesday, Jan. 16, ceremony in the Fullerton City Council chambers through an email from athletic director Paul Jones a week before the event took place. 

With this being the first time the junior has received an award of this stature, she said she hopes it will encourage her to concentrate on her last year playing for Sunny Hills as a senior.

“I think this award will keep me motivated,” Borruel said. “I will keep myself focused on the process and [what I can control], not so much on the results.

The tennis star’s mother, Rosario Itzel Rodriguez, was in attendance during the recognition and said she recalls a great sense of pride seeing her daughter there.

“I am very proud to watch [Borruel] grow up into such a good person,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad she has good values and that she has grown up to be a good role model for her siblings.” 


“Guardar tu dignidad.”

Those are the Spanish words Borruel said she says to herself before each of her high school tennis matches. Translated in English, it means, “Maintain your dignity.”

The certificate of recognition given to Daniela Borruel from the Fullerton City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the city council meeting. (Image used with permission from Daniela Borruel)

The junior said her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico 18 years ago, shared this phrase with her after she started high school here, and now, it has become a large part of who she is as an athlete. 

“Win or lose, I try to compete my hardest and try to be as cordial as possible with my behavior because, at the end of the day, it’s just a tennis match,” said Borruel, who was recognized on Dec. 23 by The Orange County Register as the Orange County Player of Year for the second time after winning the CIF-SS singles title last semester.

Girls varsity tennis head coach Christopher Ghareebo said Borruel’s hard work and poise on the court are the causes of her success.  

“[Borruel’s] humility and perseverance is what makes her special,” the head coach said. “I believe it keeps her motivated to keep working hard because she is so determined to be the best.”

On the 8.5-by-11-inch card stock certificate from the city officials that now sits on the student’s trophy shelf, it mentions her accomplishments as All-County First Team “Player of the Year” and the CIF-SS singles championship for the 2023 season.

“Your hard work, dedication and passion for tennis have not gone unnoticed,” according to the commendation. “You have inspired many with your achievements, and we are proud to have you represent our community.”

In her sophomore year, the tennis phenom said she chose to play CIF doubles with then-senior Crystal Kim during CIF playoffs, in which they lost in the semifinal round.

“I don’t have any regrets [about playing doubles],” Borruel said. “I thought it was a great time to spend this tournament playing with my good friend Crystal Kim, who was a senior; I definitely had a lot of fun.” 

While she obtained the same achievement in her freshman and junior years, she said the two runs to the CIF singles title felt very different.

“Now that I knew how it felt to win CIF and bring it to [my] school, it was that much more exciting for me to win it and for me to want to win it,” she said. 

Ghareebo said Borruel held a heavy burden during the final match of the Thursday, Nov. 30, tournament held at Claremont McKenna College.

There was a lot of pressure and stress on Daniela to reclaim her title, so when she was able to win it all, I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy,” he said.

Borruel sees her second CIF title as one of her highest achievements so far but keeps these emotions to herself.

I don’t really look at the accomplishments; I really think about the journey I’ve gone through,” Borruel said. “I think the process is much more valuable [than the outcome].”


Borruel attributes the success she experienced so far to the principles her family instilled in her.

“I’ve had a lot of values that have been passed down to me from my family,” she said. “I’ve been learning a lot on the way, but I think I’m very dedicated and true to what I do.”

Girls tennis coach Christopher Ghareebo (left) stands next to junior Daniela Borruel as she holds up her CIF-SS Division 2 girls singles title at Claremont McKenna College on Thursday, Nov. 30. (Image used with permission from Rosario Itzel Rodriguez)

She specifically sought the support of her mom, who is her coach on the court and personal trainer in her home gym.  

“With my mom and I, it’s always a little bit tricky because she switches from being a mom to a coach almost immediately, and sometimes they are kind of combined,” Borruel said. “It was definitely hard [for] us to bond, but I think over the years, we’ve been able to balance it out and help each other learn.”

Rodriguez said she believes that all of the effort her daughter has been putting into the game is paying off and that her mentality of “maintaining her dignity” shows her daughter’s overcoming adversity.

“I think that all her hard work has been [reflected] over the past few months,” Borruel’s mother said. “[We] have been in [this tennis] process together for almost eight years now, so we both had to overcome a lot of obstacles.”


In addition to her family’s testimony, Borruel’s teammate, freshman Maya Orton, praises her actions on and off the court. Orton said she’s overjoyed for Borruel’s recent achievements and respects the junior’s modesty surrounding her athletic accomplishments.

“She doesn’t talk about her accomplishments, but everyone can see how good she is,” said the freshman, whom Borruel considers her closest friend on the team. “She lets her tennis speak for her; on the court, she is such a gracious opponent, always taking time to talk to her opponents after the match is over.”  

The junior’s hard work has recently come to fruition after committing on Dec. 12 to play tennis for USC’s women’s tennis program, which has won seven national championships and has a team this season that’s ranked No. 16.  

“I was recruited by USC, and I was able to get scouted by them in a couple of tournaments,” said Borruel, who was offered a full-ride athletic scholarship. “I don’t have a set major [yet], but I am leaning toward psychology.”

She said she had received offers from several women’s tennis programs including at Columbia University, the University of San Diego, Pepperdine University and Tulane University.

“Going into college offers, I didn’t have a dream school, so I figured it out as I went,” the junior said. “I chose USC because I loved the school spirit and athletic department.”


The co-captain said she chose not to turn professional as a teenager like current U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff, Amanda Anisimova and her favorite tennis star, Aryna Sabalenka.  

“I want to have the college experience and open the path to [higher] education,” Borruel said. “It is also a very expensive process that comes with a lot of traveling.”   

With a 58-0 singles record entering her senior year this fall, Borruel said she plans to focus entirely on her journey, her character and improving as an athlete, putting aside the focus on wins and streaks.

“I don’t care about results; I care about how I can be a better person and athlete on the court,” she said. “I usually focus more on things that are controllable, like my effort and attitude.”

Nevertheless, Borruel said she hopes to win her third CIF singles title and have a successful season with her team.

“A big part of my game is being physical on the court, so I’ll have to be able to keep my fitness up and mental [strength],” she said. “I need to just keep working and not take my foot off the gas pedal.”

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Dareen Hagekhalil, Staff Reporter
After taking the Journalism 1 course during her junior year, senior Dareen Hagekhalil joins The Accolade as a staff reporter. She hopes to improve her writing and social skills by working with the award-winning team. Previously as a cub reporter, Hagekhalil loved expressing her thoughts on important social issues through opinion pieces and plans to continue expanding on these ideas this year. In her spare time, Hagekhalil can be seen watching sports, napping, talking politics or binging a new TV show.
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