Cambrian: Sports

Coast netters battle big schools

Alex Zaragoza returns a serve against Lompoc’s top seed Monday, Sept. 10.
Alex Zaragoza returns a serve against Lompoc’s top seed Monday, Sept. 10. PHOTO BY MERLE BASSETT

Coast Union High School tenniscoachRonRugglesdoesn’t place too much emphasis on the Lady Broncos’ early-season 1-4 record. After all, his team has played matches against Atascadero (1,520 students), Paso Robles (2,014 students) twice, and on Monday, Sept. 10, they took on Lompoc (1,430 students), losing 6-12.

It’s an annual rite of autumn: the Lady Broncos are not part of the Coast Valley League (Bronco baseball, softball, volleyball and basketball teams are in the league) because most of the teams in the league don’t have tennis as a varsity sport. Hence, Coast Union — with its enrollment of 239 as of Aug. 31 —goes toe-to-toe with teams from schools with far bigger athletic teams.

That said, Ruggles told a reporter on Monday, Sept. 10, before his team’s match with Lompoc that his student athletes tend to get “overwhelmed when we play the big schools … there is some frustration,” but he has seen huge improvement over last year.

“These girls are real good,” the coach explained. “As a group they’re the best team I’ve coached in a long, long time. They take direction extremely well. They take warm-ups on their own and I don’t have to be anywhere near to them. They’re an extremely mature group.”

He thought for a moment and continued: “They’re the best team I’ve ever coached. As individuals they’re great people.” Ruggles believes this group has a chance to make the playoffs, albeit he worries about the injuries some players have sustained—mostly shoulder injuries.

“My number one doubles and my number one singles are extremely good and everyone else is really solid.”

Speaking of his top-seeded singles player, Alex Zaragoza, the senior got behind 1-4 in her set against Lompoc’s top seed on Monday. But Zaragoza battled back, won 17 games in a row and won that set (6-4) prior to sweeping her next two singles matches (6- 0, 6-0).

Ruggles’ top doubles team, Morgan May and Kylie Castle, also did well in their sets (6-4, 4-6, 6-0).

On the subject of team chemistry, senior Aymee Gonzalez is in her first year on the varsity and is “really enjoying the sport. We are a pretty close team, we’re all seniors and we get along well.” Gonzalez says her first choice of sports is soccer, which she has played since she was young.

“But I wanted to try something new, and I’m really enjoying tennis,” she added.

The next match for Coast Union is on Sept. 18 in Morro Bay. The Lady Broncos return home to play Templeton at 3 p.m. Sept. 20.