There’s something different about the Crossroads girls tennis team this year.
Although coach Zach Bromberg enjoyed working with the past three editions of the program, he lamented that some previous players didn’t always work as hard or take the sport as seriously as he would have liked.
This season, he said, those issues haven’t come up.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” Bromberg said. “It’s exciting. The overall attitude makes a big difference.”
The new dynamic is thanks in part to the influx of a strong freshman class that has already shown promise as the Roadrunners seek to stay relevant in the tough Gold Coast League race.
The group includes Olivia Busselle, Leigh Frankel and Phoebe Katims as well as Natasha Resnick and Emily Sures.
“There’s exciting potential, but they haven’t made that choice to dedicate their life to tennis,” Bromberg said. “In tennis, unlike some other sports, you can’t just be a freak athlete. You have to have that technical discipline. … They have a lot of potential depending on how they want to move forward with tennis.”
The freshmen are part of a 13-member squad that has engineered some early success despite playing against opponents with far more tennis experience.
Bromberg acknowledged that many of his players have interests beyond tennis but added that the sport can still provide them with valuable lessons.
“It’s a tool to discover more about themselves and utilize that in the passions they do have,” he said. “The challenge is that there’s not one girl who trains even close to the level of the girls we’re facing. But my goals are not results-based.
“As a coach, I try to separate the expectations from the results and see how they handle themselves. That’s all I care about for them.”
That said, the Roadrunners (2-3, 2-2 in the Gold Coast) are no doormats.
After season-opening losses to Studio City-Campbell Hall and Los Angeles-Notre Dame, Crossroads delivered a 14-4 win over Chatsworth-Sierra Canyon thanks in part to doubles victories by Katims and Sures and Resnick and Grace Attanasio and singles sweeps by Maya Matthews, Becca Wachter and Annie Myron.
The Roadrunners fell 16-2 to Brentwood four days later in a match that Bromberg said was closer than the final score indicated.
“We’ve had so many games where games and sets have been really close, but there was that one degree less of sharpness on our end,” he said. “We’ve been close. Who knows what’ll happen by the end of the season?”
Crossroads logged another triumph Thursday with an 11-7 decision against Los Angeles-Windward. Singles wins by Frankel, Matthews and Wachter complemented doubles victories by Attanasio and Myron and Sures and Sophia Deutsch.
Their season continues Tuesday afternoon with a conference match against Calabasas-Viewpoint.
Bromberg, an Arizona native who moved to Huntington Beach at age 16 to train at a tennis academy, played collegiately at the University of Arizona before an injury derailed his career.
He said the setback was a blessing in disguise, and he tries to use his coaching platform to help the Crossroads girls find the silver linings in their own difficult situations.
“As long as you have the will to work through challenges and persevere no matter what the outcome is, you’re going to grow,” he said. “For them, it’s understanding that the competition you’re facing can get vicious, and you’re essentially out there by yourself. It’s great to understand yourself in those moments.”