Girls Tennis Strives for Success Through COVID-19


With sports resuming at Lompoc High, girl’s tennis is in action! This year’s season starts March 22nd and will end in early May. The Varsity team will only consist of 9-10 athletes per comeptition, with some girls alternating due to complications of scheduling, traveling, and COVID-19 guidelines.
You may ask: Who is on the team? Our team members representing the Lompoc Braves are Diana Alcantara, Jill Picache, Deana Ramirez, Esmeralda Ortiz, Katherine Reyes, Liset Villalobos, Miranda Felix, Natalia Zepeda, Sofia Larios, Stephany Cervantes, Veronica Guadarrama, Melissa Meza, and Bibi Huitz. They’ve been working hard at practice Monday through Friday from 3-5pm! The girl’s tennis team is led by Coach Rich and Coach Montross.

When conducting an interview with Mr. Montross, I had asked some questions regarding his coaching experiences and how he’s been dealing with COVID-19 and the team. Montross has been coaching girls tennis for three seasons now, along with coaching three seasons of baseball here at Lompoc High and even some softball. In all, he has been coaching for six to seven years! He was inspired to coach girls tennis, because he had seen that coaching tennis was going to be a challenge – as girls tennis hadn’t been largely promoted at LHS, in the past five to six years. Montross hopes to encourage girls to play to have fun, friendly competition. Montross says that Lompoc is best known for it’s football, basketball, baseball, and soccer teams and that tennis doesn’t really get much exposure. He describes tennis as a sport where most girls don’t grow up playing it, and then hope to keep playing it in high school. However, Montross admits that it is an opportunity where you don’t have to be the best, or most skilled athlete that is able to run ten miles or be the fastest athlete to compete and have fun.

A personal motto that Montross tries to keep in mind is, “People don’t boo nobodies” (Professional baseball player Reggie Jackson). He says that the quote simply means that you’re a relevant person. He further explains that if you’re doing something positive, there will always be negative comments, but if you’re not doing anything at all, then people aren’t going to say anything about you. He set the example, by asking me: if he wasn’t a tennis coach, would I have gone to interview him? His obvious answer was probably not. But, because he’s doing something, I reached out to him to see what he has to say. He added that the team motto is, “Let’s shock the world”. He says that’s a funny thing, since most of the leagues they’re against are tough. But nevertheless, they go out shouting “Let’s shock the world!” and try to pull off a victory or even just upset the team that’s been winning every match.

While this pandemic may have been looked at as a negative thing, Montross said that one positive thing was that it encouraged girls to try different sports and that new athletes, who had never even played tennis, came to practice wanting to give it a try. He expressed that it was an exciting thing to see and that he was looking forward to seeing these new girls in action, at their first competition against Santa Ynez. Although it’s delightful to think about the positive side of things, COVID-19 is still a factor to consider.

Montross had said he was taking more interest in the cleanliness and germs, by trying to keep the equipment clean while at practice and at matches. Montross and the other tennis coaches also monitor the girl’s health and encourage them to take extra care of themselves. He wonders what the governor thinks about teams practicing when he says, “is he okay with us getting together, stretching, conditioning? Is he okay with us using equipment …?” He tries to stay up to date because there seems to be something new every week. Such as, there only being five people allowed in one space at time. Montross tries to resolve this issue by spacing things into smaller groups. Yet, this forms a challenge on scheduling and the time frames of the team’s practices and matches. Montross addressed the problem of the arriving season; The girls haven’t been practicing enough! So, he tries to come up with ideas based on the restrictions, that helps the girls stay healthy and properly prepare for competing.

During COVID-19, Montross has been reading up on professional tennis and their tournaments. He reads about how they keep things clean and takes inspiration from these tennis teams. He’s actually created new, innovative ideas for smaller group activities that the girls can do. He says that he is actively communicating with the athletic directors, as well with the other tennis coaches at Lompoc High and in the league. Typically, girls tennis (a Fall sport) runs from September to October and boys tennis (a Spring sport) would run from March to May. So, with COVID-19 in effect, they’re going to be playing at the same time. Many people see this as a big change, but our LHS tennis teams are positively pushing forward!

Grinning, coach Montross explains that he takes a lot of inspiration from other coaches. In fact, a coach he had grown up admiring was a manager for the Seattle Mariners (a famous baseball team), Lou Piniella. Montross describes the manager as being very intense and having a lot of energy. Montross liked the way Piniella managed, by holding the teammates accountable and getting the best out of you. Piniella was a manager in the 1990’s, so that type of mentality most likely wouldn’t have worked in this day and age. Montross used his 11 year old daughter as an example of trying to find the right way to talk to a person. He ended up connecting it to girls tennis, where he had to uncover each person’s personality in order to learn how to treat or talk to each individual. Sometimes he had to be gentle and calm, but with other people, he had to push them harder, being more firm to get the point across. Montross had to find a balance that worked with the girls. So, he used humor and sarcasm to try to have fun with them and create a bond but he had also said “don’t take my kindness as a weakness.” Montross will give his students respect, but if someone is slacking off, he’ll take a step back on the situation.

Even when sports are up, it is no excuse for not following restrictions. Montross mentions that during practice, he asks the athletes five questions regarding any symptoms of COVID-19 and keeps a running list of attendance in case someone does test positive. In that case, the person who tested positive can know what day they came to practice and the people they were in contact with. So far, our beloved LHS tennis players are safe and doing well.

Normally, Girls tennis would travel via van, with Montross, taking nine girls to go play. However, things are not anywhere near normal – the boys and girls tennis teams are taking a school bus together instead! Transportation isn’t the only thing to change. During tennis matches, the home team will be the only one providing the tennis balls to be used in play. But each team is responsible for bringing their own tennis balls before the matches. Normally, girls tennis does an introduction and a handshake at the beginning and end of a match, but with close contact being not a great idea, it has been changed to be a simple wave and ‘thank you’. During matches, those playing singles matches are able to have their mask off, but those playing doubles have to keep their mask on. However, people who don’t participate are not allowed to have their mask off at any time. Everyone tries to keep their distance, even when they’re at different places, playing or not playing. Despite the overwhelming restrictions to the matches, practices, and traveling there has been nothing but positive outcomes.

Although our girls have faced many challenging barriers along the way, girls tennis is still striving for success! The bittersweetness of this past year seems to have brought the girls even closer together. Support your LHS girls tennis by going to their home matches!