A few years ago, Savannah Ramirez was playing organized tennis for the first time, showing promise as a young athlete. Today, she’s the head coach of Liberty High School’s girls’ tennis team.
For Ramirez, who turned 20 on Tuesday, the learning process involved self-improvement on and off the court, and that’s the message she hopes to bring to her players this season.
During her junior year, she had to take time away from tennis to focus on academics.
“I didn’t do too well with my grades,” she acknowledged. “But I kept going to the games and supporting my teammates because I loved them.”
After improving in the classroom, she returned to the team her senior year and was named team captain. Her positive attitude and perseverance caught the attention of assistant coaches Stacey and Kelly Chance, a local couple who have stayed on to assist Ramirez this season. Earlier this year, they recommended Ramirez for the head coaching job.
“She worked hard, got her grades back up, had a really good attitude and was team captain,” Stacey said. “We thought she could relate well with the players and have that perspective.”
“She could have gone the other way and said, ‘I don’t need you guys; I’m out of here,’” Kelly added. “Instead, she realized it was a big part of her life, and she was going to do anything she could to get back on. That, to me, was inspiring. That was one of the big reasons we wanted her to be out there.”
The Chances have helped Ramirez in her first season of coaching, which has been invaluable to her.
“Stacey and Kelly are my biggest help,” Ramirez said. “They’re both amazing coaches. I appreciate them a lot.”
Ramirez is also a full-time student at Los Medanos College, where she’s taking science classes in preparation to pursue a nursing degree. Her goal is to transfer to Sacramento State University next year. For now, she’s taking the lessons she learned and passing them along to her team.
“I try to teach them to always be kind, but also competitive because they’re in a sport,” she said.
She also emphasizes teamwork, and says she wants her players to feel comfortable using her as an outlet. “Being a little younger, it might be easier for them to relate to me, so I want them to feel comfortable coming to me,” Ramirez said.
She says her experiences as a player taught her to take responsibility and hold herself accountable, and she wants her players to be able to learn from that as well.
Kelly Chance says it’s working so far.
“Every day, I see her growing, and she’s getting more involved in motivating and helping them have a good work ethic,” Chance said. “She’s been a real inspiration to the girls.”
Tuesday, the team improved to 2-1 on the season with a 5-4 win over rival Freedom.