High Schools: Case provides positive vibe

November 25, 2010|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Kristen Case is quite possibly the most positive person one would ever meet.

The proverbial glass is always half full for the Newport Harbor High boys' and girls' tennis coach.

She wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would the Sailors.

Perhaps more than any other team I've ever covered, this year's Sailors girls' tennis team had so much positive energy behind it. More than that, I saw in the half-dozen or so matches I covered this season how much the team members cared for each other.

A loss in the CIF Southern Section Division II championship match Monday afternoon did nothing to diminish that.

Case was proud of her "beasts," as she calls the players, part of the way she gives them more self-confidence. They were able to smile through the tears, even after losing to San Marino.

"Mama beast," in her fourth year as varsity coach, never growls.


"In all four years being here, I've probably never heard one negative comment coming out of her mouth," senior team captain Lauren Conway said. "I feel like she wants it just as bad as every girl on the team, and she puts a ton of her time into everything she does. Some of these teams just have a bunch of individual tennis players, who aren't really used to the team. She's really put a lot of focus into the team … and I feel like that's why we won a lot of our matches."

This year's Sailors were a team with no tennis prodigies, no players guaranteed a sweep every time they walked on the court. That's true even though the top two doubles teams of Ricki Archie and Christina Young, as well as Mindy Wheeler and Megan Bathen, never lost a set in the Sunset League. They were the underdogs even as the top-seeded team in Division II, if that was possible.

Case, 28, was in the middle of it all. The walk-on coach was quite a successful doubles player herself at Newport Harbor before graduating in 2000 and playing at Cal. She went on to help out at Corona del Mar, but a varsity position opened up at her alma mater. Fletcher Olson, the long-time coach, is still considered the head coach for the program. Case has been focusing on the varsity and Olson coached the junior varsity.

Olson knew the varsity squad was in good hands.

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