By John Philip Wyllie
For years Bonita Vista High reigned virtually unchallenged and supreme in South Bay women’s tennis. The rows of league banners decorating the Baron gym attest to that. But this season the Barons find themselves competing in a league filled with ever-improving teams. The Eastlake Titans have supplanted the Barons as the defending league champions and the Lady Barons will be hard pressed to regain the title they virtually owned for many years.
Bonita Vista coach, Eliana Martinez is counting on players such as junior singles star Estefania Perez-Pinal to restore the Barons to their once prominent position.
“Estefania is very dedicated and loves the game of tennis. She is what an athlete should be. She’s very consistent and steady and she fights for every point,” Martinez said. “Her drop shot is what she does best. She may get down several points in a match, but she always fights back. Estefania always remains positive so it is great to have her on this team.”
Perez-Pinal grew up in Mexico and started playing tennis at the age of eight at a Tijuana club called Britania. She arrived in the U.S. with her family just three years ago, but speaks English fluently and with only a trace of a Spanish accent. On weekends, she often returns to Tijuana and plays on the same courts where she first learned the game.
“I get very pumped up playing tennis especially when I am playing before a crowd. I play both doubles and singles, but I prefer playing singles. I am more comfortable out there playing singles because then it only depends on me.”
Perez-Pinal is equally competitive in the classroom. Particularly strong in math and science, she dreams of one day becoming a physician. She hopes her combination of athleticism and academic ability might earn her a college scholarship and a spot on a collegiate tennis team. UCSD is one university that has captured her interest. She likes the fact that it is close to her friends and family.
Asked to analyze her game, Perez-Pinal offered, “I think I have a pretty good attitude. I don’t get frustrated easily and I like to play aggressively at the net.” She hopes to strengthen her backhand and her service game over the course of the season.
Perez-Pinal and the rest of the Lady Barons are looking to gain entrance to the CIF Tournament at season’s end. She played in the CIF individuals as a freshman, but failed to qualify last season. Eastlake, which posted a perfect 10-0 league season in 2004 remains BV’s biggest obstacle to a team berth. Having had a taste of CIF competition, Perez-Pinal yearns to return there this season. With her determination, consistency and solid ground strokes that opportunity appears within her reach.