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Bremerton's Casias serves for love
Breanna Casias tossed the tennis ball in the air, wound up and smacked it as hard as she could.
Like a rocket, the ball whizzed through the air. But instead of landing on the other side of the net, it pelted her friend, and teammate, Valerie Ebbay in the stomach.
It was an easy accident to forgive.
Both Bremerton High School girls tennis players laughed off the inadvertent strike.
Casias had a wide grin with her racket shielding her mouth, while Ebbay chuckled, holding the ground for a brief timeout.
“That kind of thing happens from time to time,” Ebbay said. “It’s easy to let it go with Bre.”
Casias isn’t the type to care so much about wins and losses, she just wants to have fun.
Don’t get her wrong, the Bremerton High School junior prides herself on leading the girls tennis team this season, but Casias’ main objective is to enjoy her time with friends on the court.
“I just love having fun out here,” she said last week. “I love having all my friends who can actually play a sport together, and it’s easy enough that we can go out and have those rallying moments.”
The Knights standout also plays private tennis at the Bremerton Athletic and Tennis club in East Bremerton, where she competes on a more serious level with other Kitsap rivals. She said she likes playing contentious matches in the club circuit, but admits that representing Bremerton provides a unique chance to share time with classmates.
“The club is so serious, which is fine, but when I come to the high school, it’s not about who the best player is, but more about sportsmanship and being united,” she added. “I love going to different schools, and being able to hit with them is more fun for me.”
Casias’ relaxed but competitive demeanor has been beneficial for the Knights. She placed fifth at the Class 3A state tournament last year and hopes to return in the spring for a shot at a title.
Her contributions went beyond the court in the preseason when the school looked to hire a replacement for former coach Casey Lindberg, who left in the offseason to become assistant principal at Kopachuck Middle School in Gig Harbor.
The school picked Bryan Webb to take over, and Casias helped the transition process by volunteering to feed tennis balls to teammates in preparation for the new season.
Webb said Monday that his team is thankful to have Casias. He added that it’s nice to place a No. 1 singles athlete on the court for any match and have a solid chance of picking up a victory. The first-year head coach especially appreciates her leadership.
“We’re very lucky to have her,” Webb added. “She leads by example, works hard in practice and always has a positive attitude. She’s really helpful with the younger players and is a nice kid to have around here.”
Ebbay agreed with her coach. She loves playing video games and hanging out with Casias. The two became friends last year playing tennis. Excluding the painful exchange at practice, Ebbay loves having Casias at her side.
“You know how you see people and you want to be like that, that’s what Bre is,” Ebbay said. “We want to get to a place where she’s at. She sets the example for the rest of us.”
Casias wants to become an environmental engineer after college. Her passion for the environment, which surpasses a career in tennis, stems from her time with Bremerton’s Green Club and green technology course. The Knights junior said she may attend the University of Washington for its engineering program when she graduates in 2012.
“I want to be green,” she added. “I want a green career because I care about the environment, and I love math and science, which are all a passion of mine.”
Despite Casias’ quick rise as leader of the Knights in three seasons, Ebbay appreciates her friend’s ability to not develop an attitude on the heels of success.
“She doesn’t think she’s better than everyone else,” Ebbay added. “She tries to make friends with everyone and wants everyone to get along. It’s really fun to be a part of that.”
Raising the rackets: what's ahead for girls tennis
Coach: Bryan Webb, first season
Last year: 5-6
Top returners: Megan Arriola, senior; Jessica Martindale, senior; Jordan Morrison, senior; Kayla Caldwell, senior; Maelonni Howard, senior; Breanna Casias, junior.
Top newcomers: Abby Neil, junior; Ashley Chidester, senior.
Outlook: Webb said that he has a solid group of returners who should propel the Knights in Olympic League play. Webb is in his first year after taking over for Casey Lindberg. Casias placed fifth at state last year, and hopes to return this spring.
Central Kitsap Cougars
Coach: Ken Allen, 12th season
Last year: 5-10
Top returners: Tammy Nguyen, senior; Heidi Russell, senior; Molly Mus, senior; Sarah “Red” Brown, senior; Marina Miller, junior; Jessica Cheung, junior; Olivia Sullivan, junior; Sam Barrow, sophomore; Sam Scarr, sophomore; Jilian Carlo, sophomore; Rosemary Padilla, sophomore.
Top newcomers: Dana Jensen, freshman.
Outlook: Despite fielding a young team, made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Allen still believes his squad will have a fighting chance when Narrows League play starts this season.
Coach: Jeff Trainer, second season
Last year: 2-13
Top returners: Jessica McMullen, senior; Kristine Garcia, senior; Kaili Flores, senior; Kaitlyn Bosshardt, senior; Emily Crossthwaite, junior.
Top newcomers: Samanthan Galeski, senior; Krystal Suriban, sophomore; Robin Famularcano, senior; Zoe Reeve, senior.
Outlook: Despite a sluggish 2010 season, Trainer believes the Trojans are showing improvement as the season begins. He said this week that he’s not sure if those strides will result in more wins, but he anticipates a competitive season with the best of the league.
Coach: Bruce Pemberton, seventh season
Last year: 10-2
Top returners: Alyson Ormerod, senior; Megan Speigel, senior; Tracy Landram, senior; Dominique Bozarth, senior; Alexi Webster, junior.
Top newcomers: Kara Slater, junior.
Outlook: Former state champion Landram leads a young Eagles team this season. Klahowya is making improvements, and the squad will be one of the teams to beat in the league as they return a strong core of returners in 2011.