WATSONVILLE—Pajaro Valley senior Yareli Zamora has led the way this season as the top player for the Grizzlies’ girls’ tennis team.
The team captain said playing in the No. 1 singles spot does have its moments of stress but it’s nothing she can’t handle.
“No pressure being number one, I just play because I love the sport,” Zamora said.
Zamora is off to a great start this season after winning her match in straight sets (6-3, 6-1) in last week’s victory against Oakwood.
However, she wants to be more than just the Grizzlies’ ace player.
Zamora was runner up last season in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division Championships, losing by two points in a tiebreaker in the league singles finals to Gonzales singles player Hennessy Brown.
The three year varsity player wants to make a statement before stepping off the court one last time wearing a Grizzlies uniform.
“I want to win a championship this year,” she said. “When I leave I want people to know how good PV can be at tennis and encourage girls to go out and play tennis.”
Pajaro Valley has never had a player win an individual league singles or doubles championship, but head coach Jon Tarr believes Zamora has a shot at making school history.
“Zamora came really close last year, I definitely think she has a good shot this year,” Tarr said.
Tarr is entering his 15th season with the team. He joined during the school’s second year of having sports programs in 2007 and has helped build the girls’ tennis program from the ground up.
The longtime coach said the program itself has had its ups and downs throughout the years.
“When we first started we did have a lot of kids come out, but there was a period of time when we really struggled to have consistent practices and have kids show up consistently,” Tarr said.
The Grizzlies would usually get roughly 12-14 girls to participate; however, they currently have 10 committed players this year. Tarr said it’s a little tight but enough to field a team, and there’s something special about them.
“This particular group comes to practice everyday, they are the easiest to coach, they listen, and they work hard everyday which makes it so fun to coach them,” he said.
This year’s group features sophomore Eliana Moore as the No. 2 singles player and sophomore Kenia Gomez right behind her in the third spot.
Moore won her singles match in straight sets (6-4, 6-3) and Gomez won her match (6-0, 6-3) in the Grizzlies’ victory against Oakwood on Sept. 29.
Moore is looking to develop her skills this season and jump ahead to the top spot next season.
“Beside winning a championship, I definitely want to improve my speed and serving this year,” she said.
Tarr also emphasized Alma Cortez who will be the No. 4 singles player for Pajaro Valley.
Esma Tapia and Jasmine Hernandez are the No. 1 doubles duo, while Denia Escutia and Monse Martinez are at the No. 2 spot.
Zamora said she takes pride in being team captain and she focuses a lot on team chemistry to keep the group strong.
“I think we can do really well as a team this year, we just have to stay committed,” she said.
Zamora said their chemistry is strong and she’s making sure to keep the girls together.
That includes hanging out outside of practice, helping each other and always staying in contact on the phone.
“Plus, over the summer some of us practiced together and really pushed each other to get better,” Zamora says.
Moore added that they’ll only get better as the season progresses.
“I think we are doing really well right now and we will continue to grow and get better everyday,” she said. “We are a strong team.”
Tarr said they are a young team and the future is bright for this program, especially for the No. 3 doubles team of freshmen Regina Molina and Priscilla Martinez.
“Both are great athletes,” he said. “I can certainly see them playing singles by the time they are juniors.”
The Grizzlies returned to the PCAL’s Cypress Division and improved to 3-1 in league play after defeating Oakwood, 6-1, on Sept. 29.
Tarr said Gonzales High, which defeated PV on Sept. 27, might be the team to beat and standing in the way of a league title.
The Grizzlies have one league championship in school history in 2013 when they finished the season 9-1 in the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division.
PV will host Gonzales on Oct. 13 in hopes of splitting the season series.
Tarr believes any team can come out on top in the league this year. He said the key to winning is coming out everyday, working hard and staying consistent.
“This league is as even as I’ve ever seen in competition from top to bottom,” he said. “I don’t think there is any dominant team. I think we have a good chance to come in first but anything can happen.”
The Grizzlies will play at St. Francis in Cypress Division action Thursday at 4pm.