Freshman Athletes Go Straight to the Top

Though ninth graders are usually placed on JV teams, that did not stop freshmen Lauren Liu, Ali Dyer, Carrie Beyer, Ritu Bhargava and Lydia Vieraitis from taking spots on the varsity teams.

Lauren and Ali play for the varsity tennis team, Carrie and Katy are a part of the girls water polo team and Ritu and Lydia play varsity field hockey.

On each team, the freshmen are making huge contributions. Each of them consistently sees playing time during games.

“Katy is one of the better two-meter players in our league, possibly the best,” varsity girls’ water polo coach Brian Whitlock said. “Carrie is one of the first players off the bench.”

In tennis, Lauren holds the number two spot for singles, while Ali and her partner Junior Anne Reid are number three for doubles. Ritu and Lydia are valuable substitutes for the field hockey team.

“They’re doing a very good job stepping in to help varsity win some matches,” girls’ varsity tennis head coach Cuong Duong said. “I’m very happy with their contribution.”

However, age is not a factor in the coaches’ decision when they pick who to put on varsity.

“If they’re good enough to start, I put them on varsity,” Duong said.

Most of the freshmen have been playing their respective sports for years. Ritu and Lauren both started playing when they were only seven years old. Carrie began water polo in fifth grade. Both Carrie and Ritu play on club teams, while Lauren competes in tennis tournaments every weekend during the off season. Lauren currently holds the ranking of 88 out of around roughly 300 ranked tennis tournament players in California.

The freshmen work hard during practices and games, meeting the expectations of their coaches.

“They have a really good attitude,” Donahue said. “They’re just trying to get stronger.”

Despite the age gap, the girls are fitting in well with their teammates. All of the girls are having fun playing with upperclassmen and have become fast friends.

“We share something we love,” Carrie said. “It’s hard not to get along.”

Older players agree as well and enjoy the presence of freshmen on the team.

The presence of so many freshmen will help maintain strong varsity teams in the future.