CHS tennis program sets sights high with new coach
The Claremont High School girls tennis program has survived several head coaches over the past few years, which undoubtedly contributed to recent lackluster performances like ending the 2014 season tied for last place. The team could use a little stability, and may have found just that in their new coach Kathy Settles.
Coach Settles is a familiar face in Claremont. She served as assistant coach two years ago and has three children currently attending Claremont schools, including her son Christian who was on the boys tennis team last year, and one recent CHS graduate, Riley Settles, who played midfield on the Pack’s girls soccer team.
Raised in Davis, California, Coach Settles’ father taught her to play tennis. She competed at the juniors level and in high school. She then went on to play for the University of California, Irvine, eventually landing a job with men’s professional tennis on the ATP Tour. She relocated to Claremont about 12 years ago when her husband Paul Settles was hired as the men’s tennis coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Last year may have been a disappointment, but tennis at CHS has traditionally been strong. The boys have dominated the Palomares League for the past couple of years and the girls were tough as well under coach Tom Spinosa who quit in 2012. However, it may be a bit early to see where the program will go from here.
“We’ve only been together a week as a varsity team, so we’re still trying to figure out who wants to play singles and who is more comfortable playing doubles,” said Coach Settles.
The team was working on fitness exercises in the late summer heat on Tuesday. There were audible groans as Coach Settles took them through repeated sets of planking, push-ups and lunges.
She believes the fitness sessions build confidence and make the girls stronger, which will come in handy for long matches. Plus, working in the heat is good adversity training.
“This is such a great group of girls [who] have a balance of enjoying what they do and working hard at it,” she said. “I want them to love coming to practice every day, to love getting better at something, that is kind of my philosophy—to help them develop a lifelong passion for the sport through playing high school tennis.”
The team includes six seniors, four of whom were on last year’s team, and two who were brought up from JV. That mix could be good, with four captains leading the whole team.
“We were talking about our goals at the beginning of practice today: ‘Why are we out here in training in the heat when we could be somewhere else?’” she said. “Since we finished tied for last, their goal is to do better than that. We would like to win league this year and go on to CIF, so we have lofty goals coming from last to first.”
As Coach Settles sees it, the CHS girls tennis team has two jobs, whether they win or lose.
“We have to represent ourselves well, our school well and our families well, and do the best we can to problem-solve on the court as we work to win,” said Coach Settles.
Claremont’s first match got cancelled on Tuesday due to the heat, so the team’s default first match will be against San Dimas on Thursday. League play is set to begin in two weeks.
The Claremont High School varsity football team ran over West Valley High School 65-8 on Friday in Hemet.
The Pack’s new quarterback, Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva, completed five out of five passes for 75 yards and one touchdown. Rushing, he had two carries for a modest five yards.
Junior running back Duy Tran-Sampson had a big night with 13 carries for 228 yards and five touchdowns.
Another notable performance came from Justin Smith, with 10 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Markelle Davis had five carries for 23 yards and one touchdown. Laquamie Bond had two carries for 23 yards and caught a 47-yard touchdown pass.
The team did not report defensive statistics.
The Wolfpack cross-country team did very well in their first test of the season at the Cool Breeze Invite on Saturday in Chino. The boys came in second to Great Oak and the girls were third behind Great Oak, and Desert Vista, Arizona. The meet included 54 teams.
Both Great Oak and Desert Vista are nationally ranked teams so the result was particularly promising for the upcoming start to Palomares League.
As a result the boys are now ranked number-one in division two and girls are number-four, according to Prep Cal Track.