The Malibu High Sharks girls tennis team ended their regular season last week as the Citrus Coast League champions for the fourth consecutive season.
Sharks coach Joyce Stickney said winning the league title is always a great feeling.
“It’s nice to not have the championship for one year and then next year we are rebuilding again,” she said. “It’s great to have such a strong team.”
The team cemented its latest conference title last week with a 17-2 victory over Channel Islands on Oct. 19 and a 17-1 defeat of Santa Paula the next day. The Sharks were undefeated in the league and finished the regular season with a 14-2 record.
The win over Channel Islands fell on Malibu’s senior night. The team celebrated its six seniors — Chloe Rapf, Gabby Jemelian, Galen Selbert, Jacquelle Kapland, Mathea Lasky, and Maxine Kelly — after the win with cake, other good eats, and posters with seniors’ names written on them.
Additionally, the team’s juniors recited a rap song they wrote to honor the 12th-graders. Stickney said the performance led to a lot of tears and hugs between all the Sharks.
“It was one of those pure, vulnerable, intimate moments where I think they all realized how precious this is,” she said. “It was heartfelt and intentional.”
“You could tell they really appreciated us, which was super sweet,” said Selbert, 17, one of the team’s co-captains.
The Sharks boys water polo team joined in on the fun. The water polo players held up the signs with the tennis player’s names in order for the girls to run through their signs like a high school football team charges through a banner on Friday nights.
Laskey, Malibu’s other co-captain, said senior night was great.
“It felt really nice,” the 18-year-old said.
Stickney described the seniors as a close bunch that have grown together throughout their four years of high school tennis.
“They improved so much from tennis being a hobby and it being fun to being really avid, serious tennis players,” she said. “It’s been rewarding to watch them work hard. There is the personal growth piece in leadership and just as human beings that has been really neat to see.”
Six of Sharks competed in the Citrus Coast League Girls Tennis Finals in Channel Islands from Monday to Wednesday. Each of the league’s teams sent their top two singles players and top two doubles pairs to compete in the single-elimination tournament.
Malibu players that competed included Selbert and Kelly, who competed in the singles field, and the pairs of Lasky and junior Athena Ram and Kapland and Jemelian in the doubles bracket.
Before the tournament, Selbert was looking forward to facing the top players in the league.
“Its really fun because it gets more competitive,” she said. “I enjoy playing against difficult players because I get to bring my spirited energy out on the court.”
The whole team will take the court for the CIF playoffs, which begin on Nov. 2.
Laskey and Selbert said the friendships between the Malibu players off the court strengthened their performances when facing an opponent on the opposite said of the net.
Stickney said the Sharks are a cohesive unit.
“They are comfortable around each other, supportive of each other, and very open,” she said. “It is almost a dream situation of a team.”