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Mustangs are prepared to compete

TENNIS: Costa Mesa players have invested in coach's program, which includes serious physical demands, mental focus.

September 12, 2006|By Dominic Perrone

What Coach Sean Lance's Costa Mesa High girls' tennis players may lack in talent and tournament experience, they make up for in conditioning and preparedness.

Lance is feeling extra confident entering his fourth year guiding the Mustangs. This year, all the players will have started their high school careers under his system of structured workouts and focus on pre-match strategy.

There were difficulties when Lance started with the Mustangs. Returning players did not welcome more intense workouts. But he told them this was the path to winning tennis. Most quit, but the new players stayed on and the program has been consistent.

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Costa Mesa has advanced to the CIF Southern Section playoffs the past two seasons.

"I do a very structured practice," Lance said. "I use the Navy SEAL physical fitness test. I give them a score and we train five days a week. We go to [a health club] for weight training."

Once the matches begin, the focus continues to be on conditioning and how to match up best with the opposition. Lance said the Mustangs will be at their best by stacking their doubles with the best players because schools usually put their best players in singles.

"I look at our strength and our strength is fitness," Lance said. "I don't have many tournament players. I have them play doubles. The new players, I have them play singles to build up their experience."

Lance runs a "challenge ladder," in which players compete with each other in a round-robin format. The winner gets to choose to play singles or doubles.

The plan is to win the majority of the doubles sets and for senior Jennifer Courtney, who was the No. 8 seed in the Golden West League tournament last season, to win a couple of sets in singles.

Lance plucked Courtney, who played No. 3 singles last season, off the basketball team. He regularly scouts Costa Mesa's volleyball and basketball teams in search of potential tennis players.

Junior Janne Saculles, who was the No. 1 singles player on the junior varsity squad the past two seasons, will play No. 2 singles, Lance said.

Senior Hang Le, who played varsity doubles last season after taking a year off to focus on her advanced placement classes, will play No. 3 singles.

"She improved her game and her technique," Lance said.

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