|High Desert Tennis Association|
Tennis regionals coming to VVC
Arrival of 35-team tourney marks important step for local tennis
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
VICTORVILLE — When it comes to tennis, the High Desert has always been something like the ugly stepchild. The Victor Valley College women’s team will try to play Cinderella this week.
At the very least, the ball is coming to Victorville.
For the first time ever, VVC will host the Southern California Women’s Regional Tennis championships, beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. The tournament will draw 40 top singles players and 40 doubles squads from about 35 community colleges in the region.
"It’s an awesome feeling just knowing what this event can do for the High Desert,” Rams coach Marites Killion said. “I can't say it’s going to be such a huge thing that it’s going to put the High Desert on the map, but it is kind of representing the fact that the Desert is a growing place.
"Tennis has a place in the High Desert, and we are really pushing forward with events that promote youth tennis. It’s our launching pad."
Each year’s host site for regionals is selected by a committee. It takes into consideration a school’s facilities, history of hosting conference championships, and especially the reputation of the coaching staff and athletic department.
When she first took over the program six years ago, Killion found a dilapidated complex that was in no shape to support college athletics. Fences were pulled out, nets torn down, posts and benches destroyed.
It was a gradual rebuilding process. One year new nets were installed. Another year brought new windscreens. Then came painting and surfacing.
Now the courts on the lower campus of VVC look more like college facilities. And they're about to get better. The tennis courts will be shut down all week as they are resurfaced in preparation for the big tournament.
"It’s progressive for us, and it looks like we're at the point where it’s all coming to fruition,” Killion said. “I've attended too many regional tournaments that do not highlight the level of play and also the magnitude of the tournament. So my thinking going in was, it has to be memorable."
Helping the cause has been a bevy of sponsors, from Desert Community Bank to small businesses. DCB will host a hospitality tent that provides meals for the players. Killion also hopes to have small gifts for the visitors.
As much as little things can make a difference, the big picture is still the competition. Singles players and doubles teams can qualify for the state championships next week by reaching the quarterfinals. They made it this far by advancing to the quarterfinals of their conference tournaments.
That’s when VVC really made its mark during this milestone year. The Rams swept the Foothill Conference championships in Lancaster with a pair of freshmen.