The Pen High Lakers tennis team hits the court for provincials in Langley this week.
While the Lakers won the AAA Okanagan Valley championship without having any challengers, since others schools didn’t have teams, coach Helena Konanz said they have a very good team, but took it a step further.
“It’s one of the better teams we’ve had in quite a few years,” said Konanz.
The team is bolstered by international players from Bolivia, Germany and Japan as well as a better group of female players than years past.
Konanz, who is assisted by Mhairi Dunnett and Ken Naylor of the Penticton Tennis Club, said they usually don’t have enough quality female players. The coaches are optimistic with the teams development and are hoping to finish in the top six to eight.
To be as ready as possible, the focus has always been on match play. Members of the team have played each other and the Princess Margaret Mustangs tennis team.
“When they come out to practice, we try to get them to play sets,” said Konanz. “A lot of match play so they get used to competition.”
Among the international students who brings valuable experience is Bolivian Mirko Sempertegui. The Grade 11 student was ranked in top-30 in his country five years ago. Sempertegui is excited to compete.
“It will be so much fun to go to provincials,” he said. “See how we do over there against other people.”
Sempertegui played competitively for five years and said playing in the provincial championship will remind of his playing days back home.
Helen Portner of Germany is also looking forward to the trip.
“I think it’s going to be more of a fun factor,” said Portner, who hasn’t played competitively. “I don’t have any expectations.”