With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020.
Last week we concluded our Senior Spotlight series, which highlighted some of the top senior athletes from around the county that were in line for potentially big spring seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic ended their prep careers prematurely. We thank all those student-athletes that participated in that project because we know these last three months have not been easy, having what should have been the best days of high school taken away with no say in the matter.
We were able to feature only a handful of seniors in our Spotlight project, and now we want to acknowledge all the seniors who had their spring seasons cut short. So this new series, Senior Day, recognizing every senior in every sport from around the county.
Today we’re highlighting the Napa County seniors boys tennis and badminton.
- Peiru Li
- Sicheng Guo
The Braves’ only seniors were multi-year international students.
Head coach Jim Reilly said Li was attracted to Justin-Siena for the academics and although his priority was his studies, he ended up playing on the varsity team all four years.
“As a freshman, he demonstrated athletic skills but developed tennis skills through work. By his senior year, he was playing at second singles,” Reilly said. “The team bonded around Peiru as he emerged as a leader.”
Guo came to Justin-Siena as a sophomore and played three years on the tennis team.
“He came out for the team to learn tennis and brought an international flair to the team,” Reilly said. “Sicheng was the first to come to practice and was always willing to hit before, during and after practice. He looked after younger players and became the No. 1 staple of the doubles teams.”
- Ashur Webster
Webster will attend the University of Denver after his fourth varsity season was cut short. He was the Grizzlies’ No. 2 player the last three seasons.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being one of Ashur’s coaches during his high school tennis career,” said Napa head coach Tracy Bunker. “He has a cool demeanor and a great sense of humor. He knows his abilities, his strengths and his weaknesses. He is a very pensive player, always strategizing his next move. Ashur came to NHS already possessing skill and athleticism, and a love for the sport. He is a quiet, but confident leader out on the courts, demonstrating respect for his opponents and the game. He is respected by his teammates and will definitely be missed next spring.”
American Canyon, St. Helena and Vintage
- PJ Alexander
- Kaitlin Dang
- Angela Disu
- Sabina Mendoza
- Catherine Ong
- Catherine Ortiz
- Lawrence Pacis
- Daniel Pusung
- Kyla Rodriguez
- Kaia Vega
- Martin Yamat
- Viet Vo
Wolves head coach Dorothy Gail Ramos said Dang will be attending UC Berkeley, Disu is headed to Sacramento State, Ong is off to UCLA to study biochemistry, and Rodriguez will study criminal justice at Grand Canyon University toward a career as a police officer.
Ramos sent this message to her seniors:
“Remember that this badminton family and culture were a part of the four years you were here at ACHS. That’s forever a part of you, of who you will become. Never forget the experiences and challenges you overcame as being part of this team. Use your training, the mental toughness, and the grit you trained for on these courts and use them in your next journey.
“Whoever is on the other side of that net, whether it be an opponent or obstacle, use the strategies you learned in badminton: know your opponent, go in using your best shots, and make every point count. Whatever and where you go, if you’re feeling alone or tested, know that you have a support system here with your teammates and your coaches, and find peace knowing you can reach out to us anytime.”
Alexander said badminton was “definitely the most exciting part of my day. I got to have fun and work hard with some of my closest friends while also being able to make new ones. I’ve always had an interest in badminton ever since I was a kid but never had the opportunity to play. I am grateful to say that I was able to be a part of two different, but great, teams throughout my high school experience because of how supportive and accepting everyone was. I thank everyone who has been on the team with me and giving me something to look forward to in my day.
“I will attend community college for two years to finish all my general ed requirements and then transfer to another school that has film classes. I want to be a part of the film making industry, whether it be in front or behind the camera. I am just interested in most aspects of film. One day I hope to make my own films.”
Added Pacis, “My time in badminton has definitely been the most enjoyable and most memorable part of my high school years. I will forever remember all the practices, games and, most importantly, the people that have made it one of the best experiences in my life. I plan on pursuing nursing as my career in hopes of helping people in the future.”
This was Ong’s fourth badminton season, third on the varsity. Last year, she placed second in mixed doubles at the Vine Valley Athletic League Tournament. She is also active in student government, the National Honor Society, UNICEF and Mu Alpha Theta. She described her time on the badminton team as “a riveting adventure of growth, grit, and perseverance where I met some of the best people in my life.”
- Michelle Aguayo
- Elina Chapouris
- William Chen
- Lucy Guia
- Cody Jones
- Yliana Perez
- Alondra Perez
- Bella Pineda
- Loraine Sepulona
“Michelle always gave 110% focus in practice and was always willing to help others.
“Elina has played with and against Bella since they were freshmen. These two have always been a great pair and were some of my hardest working players, and great leaders.
“Will is very sweet and always determined to learn more about badminton. I’m thankful for him being part of the team.
“Lucy was always looking to learn more every day. She was never afraid to ask questions and did her best.
“Cody was a pleasure to have on the team. He’s very funny, energetic, and determined to win.
“Yliana always has great energy her whole time being on the team with us. She always kept smiles in the room but was always focused.
“Alondra is very sweet, hardworking, and precise every time she’s at practice and games. She always used her time to get as much practice as she could.
“Loraine is a star student and player. She continuously would strive for the best and even while knocked down she would get back up stronger than ever. I admire her determination and love for the sport.” — Napa High head coach Lex Suaiso
- Emma Hall
- Mary Lastrella
- Sara Ledesma
- Jackie Lopez
- Maria Duran
- Malia Cruz
“I am really sad my seniors weren’t able to show everyone in the league how much they had improved going into last season. Emma and Mary are outstanding players who were the captains of the team and showed great leadership. Mary played No. 1 singles. Emma was ranked at No. 3, but last season she and her partner, (then-senior) Ixchel Sanchez, won the VVAL doubles championship.
“Another standout was Sara. What a great player. This year she was going to team up with her brother, Bruno Ledesma. They were an outstanding mixed team and were playing at the No. 2 spot at the beginning of the season. — Vintage head coach Robyn Del Zompo
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