Girls’ tennis is feeling very positive going into the fall season. There have been some changes under new Head Coach Nobu Tanaka that the team is confident will help them be successful this year.
Coach Tanaka stated that while winning the WCACs is the ultimate goal, he has other plans as well. In his opinion, “more important than winning games or championships, from a personal standpoint, is to use tennis as a vessel to teach and equip all of [his] players with the tools required to succeed in life.” As a St. John’s alumni, he said that “it’s very rewarding to come back and coach at SJC.”
Senior tennis player Maria Ascanio Alino repeated a similar sentiment. “It would be awesome to win the championship, obviously, but we did lose 10 seniors last year. So, our goal is really just to get better and try to win. If we don’t win, we are honestly getting so much better as a team. So I think that we have a better chance in the future.”
Coach Tanaka returned to St. John’s in the spring to coach the boys’ tennis team. He previously worked with professional tennis player Maria Kirilenko, who was at one time one of the top tennis players in the world. He says that he “learned a lot from her in [their] conversations on and off the court.”
As always, with a new coach comes new ideas. Coach Tanaka is focusing a lot more on conditioning than the team remembers doing in the past. This year, they’ve been running a lot more to help be more prepared physically for the matches.
The team is looking forward to their upcoming match against Good Counsel on Oct. 1. Last year, St. John’s took second at WCACs, with Good Counsel taking home the trophy. Ascanio Alino said that “playing Good Counsel will determine how the championship will go.”