Alyssa Duran

Press file photo 

Heritage singles player Alyssa Duran and her Patriots teammates will soon be returning to the court eyeing their ninth straight league title.

The Heritage girls’ tennis team has a stranglehold on the Bay Valley Athletic League’s competition.

And its grip isn’t expected to loosen this season.

The Patriots are gunning for their ninth consecutive league title this season, and nothing appears to be in their way.

“They are experienced compared to the rest of the league right now, but you never know if some other team has an exchange student, or some kids went out and got some lessons.,” said head coach Ed Dong. “It makes it a little bit more challenging,”

The team’s 17-member varsity roster features 12 seniors and only one new player. The group went undefeated as a team in league play in 2019; captured both the 2019 singles and doubles league tournament titles; and secured the eighth seed in the 2019 North Coast Section playoffs, the highest ever for a Heritage girls’ or boys’ tennis squad.

Reigning league singles champion Erin Crane returns to lead a loaded singles lineup augmented by No. 2 Nicollet Alexander and No. 3 Alyssa Duran. Promising newcomer J-Na Hereford, a sophomore and returners Manpreet Kaur and Kalissa Root round out numbers four through six in the singles lineup.

The doubles trio of Tammi Sison and Elizabeth Moss; Ify Chidi and Kate Rivera and Britney Smookler and Jasmine Brandy, all returners, are the team’s one through three doubles squad.

The team is slated to open its 10-match league-competition-only season against Pittsburg on Feb. 23— the first match for both teams since late 2019—and players oozed with confidence when asked about its prospects this week.

With the ordinarily challenging North Coast Section playoffs scrapped this year, the confident Patriots expect to carve up league competition.

But Dong hopes the Patriots can continue to individually improve against each other in practice and against East County competitors during league matches.

“I am hoping they don’t let the W get in the way of how they play,” he said. “We will see how it goes.”

Several Patriots said this week they and plan to continue to hold each other to high standards—a signature of the team’s successful run.

“I think we push each other honestly because we see that we are all so good,” Kaur said. “…I get that other teams might not be as competitive as us, but we really push each other because there is so much talent on this team.”

Alexander agreed.

“I don’t know about everyone else, but I am nervous to play anyone on my team,” she said.

To view the team’s complete schedule, visit bit.ly/3pwqzg1

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