Sunny Hills girls tennis defeats Fullerton, clinches second place in Freeway League standings


No. 1 doubles player sophomore Natalija Glavy hits a running forehand during Sunny Hills’ Oct. 22 home match against Fullerton Union High School. Photo taken by Accolade photographer Paul Ya sutake

Hannah Yi, Managing Editor

Despite the 98-degree heat, the Sunny Hills girls tennis team defeated Fullerton Union High School in an Oct. 22 home game with a final score of 13-5 and secured a second-place finish in the Freeway League.

“This was a really big game for us because this game would determine if we would win second place in [Freeway] League because if we lost this, we would’ve tied for second place with Fullerton,” girls tennis head coach Christopher Ghareebo said. “The first round [of sets] was definitely a back-and-forth battle, but we won a few singles and doubles wins later in the match that swung the game in our favor.”

The team, which also ended in second place in the league last season, started off making simple mistakes on the court, but the Lady Lancers began to loosen up as the weather cooled down by 5 p.m.

“In the beginning, I felt like the heat just made me more sluggish, and it definitely affected my plays,” said No. 2 singles player junior Ella Eseigbe, who started off getting shut out in her first set of play and then lost her second set 2-6 but rebounded with a 6-3 win by her third set. “It was tough being out on the hot court but being able to pull out a win in my last set of the day felt nice.”

No. 1 singles player freshman Crystal Kim made a comeback from her first match against Fullerton’s No. 1 singles player, Lillian Kelly, beating her 6-4 and the other two opponents, 6-1 and 6-1.

“I am very happy with my wins, especially since I beat all three singles players,” Kim said. “In the first match against Fullerton High School, I lost against [Kelly] 3-6, so beating her [this time] boosted my confidence for the next game against Troy High School.”

To deal with the near 100-degree temperature, district officials decided to push back the regular start time of 3 p.m. to an hour later.

“Everyone was really tense and exhausted from the first match especially since we were playing in the direct sunlight,” Kim said. “There was no shade and, we all had to squeeze underneath one canopy, but we managed to pull through and win the [match].”

With the first day of league finals on Halloween at La Mirada Tennis Center, Ghareebo hopes to see the girls maintain their gritty performances on the court.

“These next games will be the most crucial part of this season, so we’re going to continue to play hard and do the best we can do,” he said. “I have high expectations that we’ll come out strong and confident for league finals and CIF.”