The Heritage High girls tennis team was in a transition phase at the beginning of the year. A dozen seniors graduated from last season’s team. Among the newcomers were 14 players new to the sport. But despite the changes, the season had a familiar result.
For the 10th straight season and the 11th time overall, the Patriots won the league title. They posted a 10-0 record in the Bay Valley Athletic League. Of the 10 matches, all but two were 9-0 sweeps. With the perfect record in BVAL play, Heritage extended its overall winning streak in BVAL matches to 100. Heritage also dominated the BVAL Tournament, which began on Monday, Nov. 1 and was forced to finish the following day because of rain.
For a third time, senior Erin Crane won the individual league title. Her opponent in the final was her teammate and fellow senior, Natasha Siao. For Siao, this season marked her return to high school tennis for the first time in two years. She played in her freshman and sophomore seasons but didn’t as a junior during the COVID-19 shortened season in the spring of 2021. This season’s team made an impression on her.
“Obviously there were some challenges with new players and I did miss my old teammates who have graduated,” she said. “But it went really well and I’m glad I had the team I have now. Being their captain was really fun this season.”
Two players new to the Patriots this season were the doubles team of Chanelle Nau and Katti Wallace, both freshmen. They fluctuated some in the doubles lineup through the season but finished the year as not only Heritage’s No. 1 doubles team, but the best in the league. They defeated Liberty juniors Katelyn Peltz and Sierra Hendrickson in the BVAL Tournament final.
The third-place match, meanwhile, was all Patriots. Heritage seniors Ify Chidi and Kate Rivera took third in the doubles flight and their teammates -- junior Kalissa Root and freshman Ava Migliano -- took fourth.
Playing against a teammate could be awkward, especially in a high-stakes scenario like a league championship tournament. But Siao noted that Heritage players are used to it. Returning players have had to do it in past BVAL Tournaments and they frequently oppose each other in practices during the season.
“With Erin, she’s one of my best friends so it’s a little bit weird,” Siao said. “But we play each other in practice all the time. It’s more casual. It keeps you relaxed.”
Another change to Heritage’s team this season has been the head coach. Beth Hill isn’t new to the program, having worked as an assistant in the past. But she became the head coach this year.
In addition to Hill, the entire Patriots staff is female --something that at least some of the Heritage players have found advantageous.
“For me, having women coaches is better, more beneficial,” Siao said. “The advice they give is more tailored to a woman’s perspective. Especially playing a sport that’s like 80% mental, a lot of things are different mentally between how a boy would think and a girl would think when they’re playing -- and I think they understand that and are able to see when we’re upset and not bother us and see when we need it and come support us.”
Heritage made program history in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs, held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The Patriots not only got to host a playoff match but won it, defeating Clayton Valley Charter School 6-1 in the first round. The Patriots were to play Amador Valley, the top seed in the NCS, on Thursday, Nov. 11.
Regardless of when the team season ends, the league champions as well as possibly Siao will still get to play in the individual tournaments for singles and doubles. Those will be held on Monday, Nov. 15 and Tuesday, Nov. 16.