PEN Tennis Builds On CIF Success
• The Peninsula High tennis program continues to build its reputation as one of the best.
Peninsula High is known for its wide variety of sports teams, ranging from football to equestrian. While all of the teams work hard during their respective seasons to compete in Bay League and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the girls’ tennis team has proven to be a constant winner.
The team was undefeated and had a winning streak of three years in CIF. However, last year the girls lost in the quarter finals of CIF, which put a damper on their mood. This year, coach Mike Hoeger is determined to bring the Panthers back on top.
“This year, from the get-go, the girls were ready to play,” Hoeger said. “We started the year off by winning the Golden State Classic, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, one of the toughest tournaments in state.”
Hoeger has been coaching tennis for 17 years and his wife, Barbara Dewitt, is the junior varsity tennis coach.
When he was young, Hoeger won the South Dakota State High School Championship and played on a Big Ten Championship team at the University of Minnesota.
After a few years, he stopped playing but regained interest when his own children began to play tennis. Last year, Louis Hoeger was his fourth son to graduate from Peninsula, and he also was coached by his father.
“Some years you have more talent than others, so, while it is great to win championships, I really want the girls to improve, compete, bond and have fun,” Hoeger said. “Being on a high school sports team should give you the best memories of your life.”
During season, the girls prepare for Bay League and CIF by practicing for an hour and a half every Monday through Thursday.
Many of the players also play outside of the school, in their own clubs, so they can get in extra practice. Additionally, the girls play many practice matches to focus on their weaknesses and improve wherever they can.
“Our practice is definitely a lot more lax compared to the other teams’ practices,” senior Ashley Hong said.
“I know volleyball, for example, does a ton of conditioning and cross country runs at least 10 miles. However, for the girls’ tennis team, school practice is more about getting comfortable playing with different partners and working out strategies. Most of the girls go to separate lessons or workouts outside of school to improve their skills.”
This year, there are many talented girls including Ryan Peus, Kimmi Hance, Amanda Sharng and Serena Ko.
Since there are different categories in tennis, coach Hoeger evaluates the girls’ ability to play singles and doubles in order to pair them together for the best results.
“This year we have a lot of really strong, highly ranked girls, so the team is doing super well,” Hong said. “Also, I feel like the team as a whole is much more united this year, and we have upped our game regarding cheering and school spirit.”
A topic that is often brought up regarding high school sports is the discrepancy between the levels of achievement varying from sport to sport. In some sports, such as tennis, the teams do really well in competition, but in others, it could be very hard to win a tournament.
“I think there are a lot of differences between each sport regarding their performance in Bay League and CIF, mainly through the way people interpret it,” said junior Serena Ko.
“For tennis, we have made it to CIF finals, semis, etc. in Division 1, but no one really seems to pay attention because it must seem so normal for us to make it that far,” Ko said.
“However, for other sports, it is a major deal for them to make it through to the semis and finals in CIF division 3 or 4 because it does not happen that often. Overall, each sport’s performance, in either Bay League or CIF, is the same. It really just depends on who interprets it.”
Peninsula’s sports teams are all very competitive and work hard to get that edge. From swimming to basketball, these athletes work every day to become better as a team and be able to advance further in their competitions.
“As an athlete, it is really hard to play under pressure, which there is definitely more of during CIF,” Hong said. “It is important to keep your mind clear, and during CIF it is easy to focus solely on winning and not on each individual point. However, our team does well during both.”