San Pedro freshman shows ‘real talent’ on tennis court
Dennis Lim MORE SAN PEDRO
At 5-feet-1-inch tall and only 14 years old, Kasey Tate doesn’t strike fear into the heart of any of her opponents when she steps onto the court.
But when San Pedro High School’s top girls tennis player takes a swing with the racquet, knees start to tremble.
Tate, nicknamed “Tater Tot” for her size, has dominated thus far this season, losing only one match to a player two years older than her. She crushed perennial powerhouse Venice’s No. 1 singles player 8- 2 earlier this month. For the past three years, Venice has lost in the quarterfinals to the city champions.
Her success has brought a level of respect for San Pedro tennis the school has not enjoyed in years.
“She’s the best player to have gone through this program,” said Coach Joanna Jones-Reed. “She’s got great form, footwork and tons of potential. I’ve had some girls come in who could play, but (Tate) has some real talent.”
In a sport where players spend most of their youth learning to master, the majority of tennis players on San Pedro’s squad have never held a racquet before joining the team. The number of students who sign up are so slim, the school only has one team instead of a varsity and junior varsity.
Jones-Reed said she expects Tate to play in college; beyond that is up to her. For the freshman, those expectations are high enough.
“I’m thinking about college, but I don’t think I would like it in the pros,” said Tate . “I don’t know if I could devote that much time to practice.”
Tate knows quite a bit about practice and devotion. For the past three years she has devoted four days a week to the sport through the Safe Passage Program out of California State University, Dominguez Hills.
The program teaches minority players tennis fundamentals. Before Tate, who is black, joined it, she only occasionally played with her father.
Despite Tate’s stellar performance, the team still struggles to find success. The team has only won one of six games.18moreSPORTSSATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2004eventsUPCOMINGMoreInfo
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