By Karen Ronney
The Patrick Henry High girls’ tennis team visited City Hall to meet Mayor Kevin Faulconer, but it wasn’t for a school field trip. The Lady Patriots were honored guests recognized for their outstanding performance in the sport of tennis. It was an experience they will never forget.
The mayor, alumni of San Diego State University, is a self-proclaimed tennis fan. He played as a youngster growing up in Oxnard, California. He said that he has two children who play competitive sports and he has a great appreciation for the pursuit of excellence.
In the past seven years, the Lady Patriots have won six straight Eastern League team titles, a total of six league singles and doubles championships, four All-CIF honors and one CIF singles crown. They held a 72-0 league record from 2008 to 2013. Also, Patrick Henry received 40 All-Eastern League honors and 43 entries in CIF Individual Championships.
“A long-standing record like that is rare and something to be proud of in any field,” said Faulconer, who was the Associated Students President at SDSU. “It takes a tremendous amount of practice, focus and dedication to maintain top performances. This team has represented their school and their community with honor.”
The Lady Patriots set the bar high on and off the court. Academically, they maintain an average GPA of 3.5 or higher, and received a total of 65 Union Tribune All-Academic Awards since 2007.
A total of 13 Patrick Henry current players and graduates attended the awards ceremony at City Hall. Each received a handshake and a photo with Mayor Faulconer. Lindsay Brown, an All-CIF selection, is now a NCAA scholar-athlete at Claremont Mckenna College.
“Meeting the mayor and receiving this award is amazing,” said Brown, the 2011 Eastern League singles champion. “Looking back, being on the team was one of my greatest high school experiences. Now I play college tennis and I love it.”
Brown was joined by PHHS alumni and former teammate Kalee DeHamer, now a freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. DeHamer was an All-Eastern League doubles specialist and played multiple sports including soccer and track.
“Tennis was my favorite sport by far,” said DeHamer, the 2013 “Senior of the Year” at Patrick Henry. “The team was like my family and it was an incredible experience. In fact, my closest friendships came from the tennis team.”
The younger Patrick Henry players were happy to have the Lady Patriot graduates back in the fold. It was a chance to hear about college life and receive valuable advice. Senior co-captain Courtney Gilbert said she was excited to meet the mayor and talk to her former teammates.
“The dedication you have shown to get to this point will set the stage for the rest of your lives,” said Faulconer to the Lady Patriots. “You have achieved something great here. Your futures are very, very bright.”
—Karen Ronney is the head coach of the Patrick Henry High girls’ varsity tennis team.