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Tim Myers: An object lesson from Valencia Viking tennis

Myers' Musings

Posted: May 29, 2010 11:11 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.

By any objective measure, during her 15 years at Valencia High School Coach Annie Kellogg built a Foothill League boys tennis powerhouse.

In 2002, the team won its first league championship, breaking the 14-year streak of championships of then-Foothill League member Burbank High School, which still endures as the second-longest league championship streak in CIF history. Valencia would win the next two league championships, cede the championship to Hart High School in 2005 in a tooth-and-claw contest and then tear off consecutive championships from 2006 through the current season of 2010.

Full disclosure: Both our sons participated, and participate, in the Vikings' tennis program. Our oldest son played on the 2004-2007 JV and varsity teams and our youngest son just completed his freshman year on the JV team. Both are better for the coaching of Kellogg, and happy about the Vikings' recent domination of Foothill tennis.

However, both also know their relative place within the universe of tennis in Southern California. When measured in CIF terms, the Vikings stand at best average, having never advanced beyond the quarter finals (top eight teams) and generally bowing out in the round of 16 after only one victory. For this reason, Valencia never earned a seeded place in the post-season tournament,

This brings us to a comparison of the 2006 and 2010 seasons. In 2006, the Vikings fought Hart High, the 2005 champion, tooth and claw to restart their streak. The Vikings finished 9-1, losing one match to Hart High and winning the other 11-7 (18 match points possible).

In the sets that made up the match points, many scores of 6-4, 7-5 and 6-3 were found. In other words, a few balls go a different way to a much different outcome. The 2006 Vikings would exit the CIF playoff in the second round.

Move forward four years to the 2010 season. Out of total match points of 180 available for the league season, Valencia would cede less than 10 percent to Foothill opposition, and the once-feared Hart Indians would capture only six match points against Valencia, often after the pulling of starters and placement of subs once the Vikings assured match victory with 10 wins.

Further, rather than the clawing sets of 2006 the Vikings would score many bagels (6-0) and bread sticks (6-1) victories over a relatively weak Hart team.

Yet, like that scrappy team in 2006, the 2010 Vikings would exit the playoffs in the second round.

When measured against the yardstick of CIF, little difference exists between the 2006 and 2010 Vikings. Yet why were the 2010 Vikings so incredibly dominant against the league? The only possible conclusion: While the Vikings maintained their power from 2006 to 2010, the rest of the teams became markedly weaker!

How did this happen? Based on California Department of Education Reports, in 2006 Valencia and Hart High schools had substantively equal enrollments at just under 3,000.

A mere two years later, due to the opening of two new high schools and the sudden demographic "stall" in student population growth now working its way with a vengeance through the SCV elementary school systems, Hart had fallen by nearly 700 students, while Valencia held on with a drop of less than 150.

With state data unavailable for 2009-2010, rumors abound that Hart High fell below the Siegfried line of 2,000 students. I joked recently with a sitting school board member that if he stands for reelection twice he will enjoy the "opportunity" to preside over hearings for the closure of the steeped-in-history Hart High in its current comprehensive form.

So Hart athletics does not suffer because Alemany High School poached a couple of mediocre football players in their attendance area, but rather due to its hollowing out with the facilities that may stand unnecessary in the near term.

And yet, despite all this demographic data, the William S. Hart Union High School District rushes headlong to build a $150 million comprehensive high school somewhere in Castaic, that will for years enroll only 1,300 to 1,500 students and succeed only in hollowing out Valencia High School and consigning it to the growing CIF ash heap of the Foothill League.

Proponents state that they must fulfill a promise to the Castaic community. I hope they did not consider it also a promise to provide reasonably competitive teams in the CIF.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Myers' Musings" appears Sundays in The Signal.


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