Large number of seniors ready to make final season their best


Eliza Gonzalez

Robert Cornejo focuses during varsity tennis practice. He is one of two senior boys on the team and has been asked to teach tennis lessons.

Gabby Norman, Sports Editor

In Robert Cornejo’s first week of freshman year, he had one goal: to make the basketball team. He was in the class period and was sure he could earn a spot. What he never considered was that his failure could present him with the opportunity to find a new love.

“I guess I got into it because of Coach (Wade) Bartels, he’s the one that led me and motivated me to go into [tennis],” Cornejo said. “I tried to join basketball the first week but I didn’t get accepted, so I went to PE, and he noticed me.

He told me, ‘Maybe you join tennis, join the tennis team.’”

Cornejo joined the tennis team, but still planned to try out for basketball in the future.

“I did it and I played tennis and I was like, ‘Whoa, I like tennis,’ so much that I just forgot about basketball, I kept on playing tennis and I never played basketball since then.”

Like Cornejo, many of the seniors on the tennis team have fallen in love with the sport. It’s their home away from home.

“We are so close, and it’s a place where everybody is welcome,” senior Marilyn Perri said. “We’re like a family.”

There is an unusually high number of seniors on the tennis team this year. This can provide some serious competition; especially for the girls on the team.

“We have 17 seniors on the team, 15 girls and two boys,” head coach John Macapaz said. “Our number one girl is Marilyn Perri and our number one boy is Roberto Cornejo. Other standout players include Sydney Engelage and Emily Kluge, our number one girls doubles team.”

While everyone has their own reasons for sticking with tennis, one shines through. The tennis team has become a haven and a home.

“They stuck with tennis because they like the sport as much as I do, or even more,” Cornejo said. “Coach Bartels was the one that motivated us basically on everything, so I’m glad that he was there, he was the one that shined.”

Bartels retired last year, and Macapaz was introduced to the tennis program. For many of the seniors who had been coached by Bartels for the past couple of years, an adjustment had to be made.

“A lot has changed over the years.Coach Hershey retired, Coach Bartels retired, Coach Mac just came and joined in, I think it went by pretty fast,” Cornejo said. “Coach Mac is a good coach. Coach Bartels chose him and he chose well, I got to say.”

The team has learned to adapt and change with the changes. They plan to use the lessons and morals that they learn during their time in tennis throughout the rest of their lives.

“Tennis is a part of life, ya know?” Cornejo said. “It’s part of life, it helps us through our life, if you lose you lose; but you keep on going. It makes us learn something.”

With so many seniors and only a set amount of varsity spots, competition is fierce. Camaraderie, however, is even more fierce.

“It’s really good, hard competition; but at the same time, the seniors, whoever our teammates are, when I’m playing singles out there, the whole team is there supporting me, they yell,” Cornejo said. “Maybe a little bit too loud, but that’s OK. They’re out there, Coach Mac helps me out, I help out there when they’re done; but it definitely made a difference in our matches, in the way we play.”

With a big part of the tennis team soon moving on, the question of what the future of the tennis program is has arisen. Cornejo isn’t worried, he knows that people will love the sport just as much as he does.

“I think we will have a new generation of people, it would be good for them,” Cornejo said. “I’ll still come and see them again because you know, I’m a good guy, so I’m gonna go back and see them. I think it’s going to shape the way they are, I think it’s gonna make them more mature in order to be a leader and make them who they are.”