The Register sports staff has turned its attention to the Napa County student-athletes who are returning to play sports in 2020-21.
Per announcements from the California Interscholastic Federation and North Coast Section in late July, fall competition for high school sports in the 2020-21 school year is now scheduled to begin in January with the rest of the sports slated to start in March to help stop the community spread of the coronavirus.
With that in mind, we continue our Up & Comers series, which highlights rising stars and players to watch for when their long waits are finally over.
Our 59th edition features Justin-Siena’s Ashlyn Mills, Vintage’s Carla Magana and American Canyon’s Elijah Beronilla.
Class of: 2021
Mills was a team captain last fall and will be again if her senior season commences on schedule in March, six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four-year starter and plays both singles and doubles, depending on what head coach Jim Reilly and assistant coach Jack Ring feel the team needs. Her singles matches often last 90 minutes to two hours because she is a grind-it-out type of player, wearing out most of her opponents by running down every point and returning the ball deep. Although her style of play is exhausting, she said, she feels extra good when she comes away with a hard-fought win.
At last fall’s Vine Valley Athletic League doubles tournament, she and Lucia Lanzafame nearly got to play teammates Bella Rampa and Megha Jackson in the final, but a Casa Grande pair came back to beat them 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) (10-7) in their semifinal. Mills and Lanzafame had opened with a 6-2, 6-0 win over a Sonoma Valley duo, and beat a Petaluma’s pair, 7-5, 6-3, in the quarterfinals.
Mills said she is proud of the Braves’ camaraderie and the success they have had over the last couple of years, saying the players are genuinely encouraging of each other and that she helps to promote team spirit.
“Although there are lots of open questions about this season’s tennis program due to the COVID pandemic, I am looking forward to the season,” she said.
Her main athletic endeavor is tennis, but Mills also serves as a Student Ambassador, is a member of the French Club, and is a leader in the Art Mural Club. After graduation, she said she intends to study linguistics and/or sociology in either France or Scotland, and to travel and study other countries.
Class of: 2021
Sports: Badminton, soccer
With Magana manning the net in all but one game, Vintage gave up a county-low 29 goals in Vine Valley Athletic League play. She would be named Napa County Goalkeeper of the Year.
“I think a lot of it was mental work, always trying to play the game as smart as I could in order to not get injured,” she said. “I always tried my best to be there for my team and, although sometimes mistakes would happen, I knew that I had done what I could for the team and all I could focus on was coming to practice the next day and improving my skills in the box.
“My teammates and coaches played a huge role in helping me succeed. Whether it was at practice or during a game, they were always so encouraging and helped me keep my head up throughout the season.”
Magana also excels in badminton, playing No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles as a sophomore in spring 2019. This year, the Crushers got in two scrimmages but no official matches before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season in mid-March.
With the soccer and badminton seasons scheduled to run concurrently this coming March and April, Magana may have to choose between her two passions.
School: American Canyon
Class of: 2021
Beronilla has been a workhorse for the Wolves since his freshman year, racking up top placings at most of his tournaments.
As a 126-pound junior, his season came to an end when he went 2-2 at the North Coast Section Championships this past February at James Logan High in Union City.
Last December, he was second at Pinole Valley’s Xmas Classic and fourth at his own program’s American Canyon Classic.
Beronilla also reached the section meet as a 113-pound sophomore, after finishing second at the VVALs.
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