As the Berkeley High School (BHS) girls tennis team stepped onto the court on Wednesday, October 6 for their match against San Leandro, they had a specific goal in mind: win four out of the seven matches. They walked off having won exactly that number. Since its inception, the team has dominated the high school courts. They’ve had numerous successes, including the title of 2019 West Alameda County Conference Champions.
Throughout the years, these athletes have faced unique challenges, such as a lack of practice facilities. Despite these circumstances, their legacy has carried on with a 6-1 record this season.
Due to San Leandro’s lower ranking, Head Coach Mary Bedford used a different approach against this team than she normally would in more competitive situations. “This match today is tricky because San Leandro is one of the weaker teams we play, so we excused some of our top players,” said Beford. This allowed less-experienced players an opportunity to improve their skills in real games.
With two of the expected players not in attendance, this match had a layer of uncertainty. Cadie Mateer was switched out of her anticipated position in the doubles lineup. Mateer said, “I was slightly unprepared, I was expecting to play doubles today.” However, her quick adaptation brought a successful outcome of 6-4 and 6-0 in her two singles sets. “It was the best I’ve played in quite a while,” she commented.
For Co-captain Natasha Wadlund, the last-minute changes were a difficult adjustment. “I played with someone else other than my normal doubles partner, so not knowing their playing style was definitely difficult,” Wadlund said.
Freshman doubles partners Lily Frederick and Chloe Rappaport believe that practicing consistently together is crucial to achieving success. “It’s more about communication when playing doubles. You have to learn how to work well together,” said Frederick.
Despite the importance of practice, the hours have been limited for the team. The issue of court space has plagued the tennis teams at BHS for almost two decades. Coaches, parents, and players alike have become frustrated with the lack of progress being made.
Wadlund commented on the disparity between tennis and other sports teams’ facilities, saying, “We are one of the only sports teams that not only doesn’t have courts on campus, but we also don’t have a proper facility off-campus.” This has had an impact on the team. “Playing on three courts can be really challenging when we’re all trying to improve,” said Wadlund.
In order to cope with this challenge, Bedford has shifted the way practices are structured. “Girls don’t get a chance to play matches or to challenge each other, [so] we do a lot of drills,” said Bedford. She believes that the team spirit has helped the girls overcome these difficult circumstances, saying, “It’s a tough situation for everybody, but we make the best of [it] by supporting each other.”
As the team looks ahead, their match against Bishop O’Dowd poses an opportunity for redemption after losing to them earlier this season. “We’ve got one more really big challenge, so we’re looking forward to having a second chance at winning,” said Bedford. The team also strives to continue their overarching victory streak and become 2021 League Champions.