Please read the Times Herald article here, http://www.timesheraldonline.com/sports/20170419/solano-college-tennis-sends-six-to-state
Solano College Tennis sends six to state
For a Solano College tennis team in its infancy, the young group of nine has cultivated a rare form of unity.
In just it’s second year overall and inaugural year offering a women’s program, the fledgling group of Falcons defied the odds and will be sending six players to the state tournament in Ojai April 26-30.
Following successful showings at the conference tournament at American River College the first weekend of April, Chris Hagler, J.D. Bobo, Ashley Contawe, Sierra Shackelford, Reis Vince-Cruz and Krystov Fout earned their spot in the state tournament.
But while the expeditious maturation of the program allowed each team to place third in the Big 8 North Conference, the tennis team’s biggest challenge came before they set foot on Chris Cammisa Court.
“When we lost Victoria (Alvarez), who was a key piece to our puzzle in every way, we had to re-shift doubles teams,” said Solano head coach Jordan Walker. “But when we put Ashley and Sierra together, they started the conference schedule playing together and were at least the second best team in the conference. They raised their level of play pretty high.”
Donning a commemorative T-shirt in tribute to his team’s fallen Falcon, who died in a tragic drowning incident President’s Day weekend, Walker admitted that conversations were had in regard to whether or not their season should continue.
“It was brutal,” Walker said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve gone through as a coach. And for these young people who were already a really tight team, there was talk of (canceling the season). But we felt that if we asked her what she wanted that she would have definitely said to ‘play ball.’”
Solano was forced to reschedule a match at the outset of the season but managed to battle through, en route to a 7-5 record for the men and a 6-6 season for the women.
Solano freshman and Falcons’ No. 1 women’s singles player Camille Contawe was an integral source for the Falcons’ success and credited coach Walker for the warrior’s mentality he’d passed down to his team. And in her eyes, his patience and engaging demeanor was an important factor in the success of this year’s young group.
“To me personally, Jordan has so much patience,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I’ve learned from Jordan. He’s taught us how to be battlers and to go out there and play as hard as you can. But really, he’s not just a coach either. He’s been there for us like a second dad, or a friend.”
Alongside doubles teammate J.D. Bobo and fellow Falcons’ doubles team Vince-Cruz and Fout, Hagler is the lone Solano singles player slated to compete in Ojai.
The California Lutheran University transfer and Walnut Creek resident, who has taken on quite the commute throughout the season, has provided an unparalleled boost to his team and lost just one match all year.
But while he had his sites set on the trip to Ojai at the genesis of this season, Hagler couldn’t be more proud of his team as they look for the grandiose conclusion not typically fit for young group of their ilk.
“I’m really proud of them,” Hagler said. “The season started off really well and everyone was really close. And then all of a sudden something you can’t control happened and it brought us a lot closer; even though we were already close. We took some time to reflect on what happened and we came back and now we have even more motivation to win.”
By Michael Morris, MMorris@TheReporter.com, @thisjustm on Twitter