The Malibu girls tennis team has served notice to all opponents in an emphatic way. Through their first eight matches the Sharks are undefeated, a streak that includes victories over highly regarded Santa Monica and West Ranch High Schools.
Malibu, ranked No. 1 in the most recent California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division III poll, has received a complete team effort behind the talented play of singles players Britta Mosser, Lauren Louks and Ilana Oleynik as well as strong doubles play.
Mosser, Louks and Oleynik have combined to go undefeated through their first 50 sets this year.
“The three of them have been practicing hard and pushing each other,” Malibu Coach Doug Olen said. “They have been prepared for every match and doing well so far.”
The Sharks return eight starters from last year’s Division III semi-finalist team. With an improved doubles tandem of partners Raven Odian and Rachel Purewal, Tallulah Daly and Emma Sittig, and Lisa Consiglio and Elena Clarfield, Malibu has a legitimate chance to win its first CIF title since 2004.
“Our goal is to continue to work as a team. The doubles worked hard in the off-season and improved a lot,” said Olen, who is in his first season at Malibu. “I hope we can stay healthy and be prepared for every single match no matter who we are playing against. If we do those two things, it will take us as far as we can.”
Mosser won the Tri-Valley League women’s singles tennis championship last season and has led the Sharks to back-to-back Tri-Valley League titles. She was an integral part of the team’s success last year as she went undefeated in league play (28-0). Her accomplishments followed a similar path in 2010, when she was also undefeated in league play and won the TVL singles tennis championship.
The senior captain is intent on winning a third consecutive league title but also on taking the next step in the postseason playoffs.
“We just want to win all of our matches and play as well as we can,” Mosser said. “We need to keep on practicing hard and finish off strong this year.”
Despite the squad’s domination in league play last season (12-0 in the league, 18-0 overall), the season ended on something of a bittersweet note in the playoffs for Mosser. She led Malibu to three consecutive wins in the 2011 CIF playoffs only to lose to defending three-time champion St. Margaret’s High School in the semifinals.
“Britta worked hard in the off-season,” Olen said. “She is bringing the leadership from the years she has played. She is a good leader for the team.”
With Mosser leading the charge, MHS has a shot to be undefeated when the CIF playoffs arrive in late October. Even better news is that St. Margaret’s has moved up into Division II.
The Sharks dispatched Santa Monica, the No. 3 ranked team in Division II, 14-4, and West Ranch, the No. 10 team in Division II, 13-5. Now they must conquer Crossroads and Oxnard in upcoming nonleague matches and navigate through the TVL unscathed.
“We have improved so much from last year, especially the doubles teams,” Louks said. “We are all really excited to see how we do.”
Louks, a junior, and Oleynik, a sophomore, are not your typical number two and three singles players. On most teams, each of them would be playing number one singles. The Sharks are fortunate to have three of the best singles players in Division III, all on the same team.
During the summer, Oleynik won three international tournaments at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Irvine and in Arizona. She is one of the top 35 singles players in Southern California in the 16 and under open division.
“I think we have a really good team. We worked hard over the summer to prepare for this,” Oleynik said. “We have a chance to win CIF. It’s going to be a good season.”
So far, so good. The Sharks have aced their competition thus far by an average score of 14-4. Malibu has its next big match on Thursday at home against league-foe Oaks Christian at 3 p.m.
“I’ve worked with all these girls over the years. It’s fun to have them together as a team,” said Olen, who also works as an instructor during the day at the Malibu Racquet Club. “It’s exciting to see them gelling and the chemistry is excellent.”