Wheeler and Bathen get it done

Daily Pilot High School Athletes of the Week

Newport Harbor doubles team is very close, even if their sets against opponents usually aren't.

October 07, 2011|By Matt Szabo
(Don Leach / Daily…)

Competing in doubles together, Newport Harbor High girls' tennis players Mindy Wheeler and Megan Bathen need to communicate on the court.

They needs to know if the other player is rushing the net or staying back, going for the ball or letting her teammate handle it.

That communication has helped Wheeler and Bathen excel for the Sailors, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division II coaches' poll. They definitely don't have a problem with the communication part, on or off the court.

"I'm definitely excited to see where we …" Wheeler said, pausing for just a split second.

"… end up," Bathen said, finishing the sentence to make her doubles partner smile.

Wheeler, a senior, and Bathen, a junior, are on the same page.

"We finish each other's sentences …" Wheeler started to explain.

"… like a married couple," Bathen said.

The Daily Pilot Athletes of the Week are good friends, and it makes sense. They have been nearly joined at the hip for Newport Harbor the past two years. They play at No. 2 doubles, but don't let that designation — relatively meaningless on a deep team like Newport Harbor — fool you.


Wheeler and Bathen went 53-4 last year and were undefeated in both the Sunset League and the CIF playoffs, helping the Sailors reach the Division II title match. They were the league doubles runners-up to their teammates, Christina Young and Ricki Archie.

After an intense summer of practice, this year's start has been just as strong. They improved to 24-3 after winning two sets against Los Alamitos on Thursday. Excluding the Sailors' lone team loss to Division I contender Peninsula, Wheeler and Bathen have been undefeated in their team's other eight matches.

Coach Kristen Case is not surprised.

"Their games complement each other really well," Case said. "Aside from the tennis, their personalities and their work ethic are much the same, which really makes for a powerful combination. They have two of the strongest work ethics that we have on the team, so there's that mutual respect. They both want it just as bad as the other one, and they push each other. They have a lot of trust that their partner's always giving 100%, and I think that's huge in doubles."

Wheeler and Bathen have become more aggressive, constantly moving toward the net. It's the type of doubles style that Case, a former CIF Individuals doubles finalist at Newport Harbor who also played at Cal, likes to teach.

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