By Karen Ronney
Patrick Henry High’s Julia Ronney and Hailey Broderick took the Eastern League tennis world by storm when they opted to become a doubles team at the end of the girls’ season. Ronney dominated as the Lady Patriots No. 1 singles player, and Broderick was a strong doubles specialist with previous partners. At the last minute, the sophomores joined forces and won the Eastern League Doubles Championship without dropping a set.
“I never thought I’d be the doubles champion,” Broderick said. “I wanted to play with Julia because we are good friends off the court and we thought it would be really fun.”
The Lady Patriots earned All-Eastern League honors for their tournament victory. They qualified for the CIF San Diego Section Individual Doubles Championships and were the 19th seeds in the 80-team draw. The pair reached the “Sweet 16” of the strong doubles draw, eliminating seeded teams along the way from Canyon Crest Academy, as well as pairs from Fallbrook and Vista.
As a team, Patrick Henry qualified for the San Diego CIF Division I Championships. They were one of the top 16 squads in the county in that category but fell 16-2 to eventual Division I CIF champion Canyon Crest Academy.
Lady Patriots were also led by outstanding league singles quarterfinalists senior Jessica Sweis and freshman Nicole Wakeland, as well as the doubles team of junior Stasia Khinich and freshman Jade Loucks. Contributing to Patrick Henry’s strength was the doubles team of senior Courtney Gilbert and sophomore Kate Kiley, as well as the twin sister power pack of Ali and Paulina Nguyen. Other outstanding Patriots were junior Alex Loucks, senior Alex Kelly and sophomore Michelle Nguyen.
Much of the team’s spirit and enthusiasm, however, was due to the triple crown of leadership in senior co-captains Courtney Gilbert, Kelly and Sweis. They led the Lady Patriot troops with honor, responsibility and a love of the game that was contagious to all. The trio was instrumental in creating a festive but hardworking environment that made the season a huge success on and off the court.
“I loved being a captain because I was able to help my teammates and support them,” Sweis said. “We all became better friends and personally this responsibility made gave me more confidence.”
The Patrick Henry Junior Varsity team (4-4) was led by Coach Cheryl Gilbert, who is in her fourth season with the Patriots. JV standouts were co-captains Dena Sweis, Quyhn Uong, Lauren Haneke-Hopps and Jenny Brown. Adding strength to the lineup were Alyssa Arnold, Sarah and Rachel Barron, Devynn Glanz, Sierra Gilmore, Erica Tolley, Noelle Stewart, Rachel Smeltzer, Samantha Cerasaro, Sarah Ahles, Danielle Sullivan, Stephanie Roche, Tyra Roberts and Whitney Monroe.
“It felt good to be a leader because I was able to help my teammates in practice and matches,” said JV co-captain Dena Sweis. “I liked being supportive and making a difference.”
The Lady Patriot Novice team was led by Coach Karen Brown, who did a masterful job of introducing the game of tennis to freshman athletes. The Lady Patriots showed promise and made great strides. They were Ariana Cibrian, Athena Gasmindo, Emily and Ingrid Dihn, Jenna Thai, Maivi Luu, Marika Losasso, Phong Diep, Sona Radhakrishnan and Victoria Crisologo.
Special thanks go to team managers and the Patrick Henry administration for their support this season. Lake Murray Tennis Club also offered community help by giving the Lady Patriots a home when the school’s courts were under construction.
s a personal note, it literally takes a village to support a successful program like ours. We carried about 50 girls in the program and, this tennis journey truly brought joy to me and hundreds in the Navajo community. We are very grateful to all.
—Karen Ronney is the Patrick Henry High Girl’s Tennis head coach.