The Yuba College 49ers’ tennis team is, like “The Prospector”, very much a brand new team. There is only one returning player from the last season. But most of the players from this current season will come back next spring to an even stronger team.
Outwardly the team has been showing signs of its growing pains. Putting it delicately, overall, they’ve won a couple and lost a few – quite a few.
After initial losses, the players had a running pact to remain unshaven until the next overall victory for the team, and a run of close matches and canceled games kept the pact going for five weeks, until the narrow victory over the University of Oregon.
There are several members of the team who stand out for their tennis playing abilities.
The second ranked on the Men’s team, Shawn Aldrich, plays aggressively and hostilely. He is described as the team’s most competitive player. There appears to be no attempt to hide his emotions, whether winning
or losing. Throwing his racket and taking frustrations out on the tennis ball or triumphing over a clever shot, he is a visible player.
In somewhat of a contrast to Shawn’s emotional playing style is the team’s number one ranked men’s player and strong lefty, Daniel Henke. Underneath the calm and determined attitude he displays while on the court is a devastating service. Daniel is ranked fourth in conference.
Apparently their styles work well together because Daniel and Shawn are ranked third in conference for doubles.
A happy medium can be found in Eduardo Rocha, the only sophomore player returning from last season’s team. Eduardo is ranked third on the men’s team. His matches are especially fun to watch because he has a very sportsmanlike attitude and seems to just be enjoying himself. He will not be returning to the team after this spring semester, however, because he will be transferring.
The number one slot on the Women’s team belongs to Madeline Stephens. The coach for the women’s team describes her forehand as “wicked.” Madeline will be joining Daniel and Shawn at the Nor Cal Finals.
There were not very many spectators at The Racket Club in Yuba City, where the team holds their practices and matches, but those that came seemed like regulars because they were prepared with their own folding chairs to set up near the courts so that they could support the players without having to stand the whole time. The most vocal support came from players once they had finished their matches and gathered around the courts to cheer for their teammates still playing.
The team comes from different tennis backgrounds. Some of the players received training with private instructors before joining the team and others, including the number one ranked player on the team, at one point simply gained interest in playing tennis and picked up the game more on their own.
The first and second ranked have both just come from Yuba High School this past fall. They were both players on its tennis team. Other talented players are anticipated to join Yuba College from high school teams next year.
The coaches, Josh and Helen Prager, are enthusiastic about improving Yuba’s tennis team. They want to have the team be involved in conference matches in the fall as well as spring. And in preparation for next year, they want to keep the team practicing over the summer.
The coaches are also confident that the tennis team will walk away from this season as the sports team with the highest grade point average for this year.
Many of the players are enrolled in the highest, most challenging classes that Yuba College has to offer. They are dominating our collage’s highest tiers of Physics, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy and English.
In the last two semesters the highest scores for the AMATYC, a logic-based mathematical competition, have gone to tennis team members Elizna Van Zyl and Steven Lay. This gives a perfect example that the players on our sports teams have much more than athletic talent.