On the tennis court, the Diamond Bar girls tennis team was not just simply good. They were dominant.
The Brahmas pillaged and plundered nearly every opponent, finishing undefeated at 12-0 in winning the Hacienda League.
The winning team was led by their veteran head coach, Tisa Shavers, who has coached the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 varsity squad since 2002.
After her team only lost one game during the regular season, to then-No. 6-ranked Woodbridge by a score of 10-8, the Brahmas lost to Arcadia, 11-7, in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 2 Girls Tennis Team Championships.
That was the furthest the Brahmas had advanced in CIF competition. With wins over the Division 1 Troy and Sunny Hills and the Division 2 El Dorado, the team made a formidable dent in Southern Section competition.
But Shavers said the team succeeded by not focusing on the competition.
“One of the things we focused on was being the best ‘you’,” Shavers said. “If that means quarterfinals one year, we’re going to strive to reach the semifinals, and the finals next year."
Diamond Bar was right with Arcadia tooth and nail in the quarterfinal match.
“We had the opportunity in the quarterfinals to win,” Shavers said. “My number two doubles (Jocelyn Lee and Evelyn Wang), they were up in both of their matches, leading 4-1 against their number one, and they were leading 4-3 against their number two... if we had won those two, we certainly would have captured that match.”
Shavers said she had high expectations for the team to make it to the final round, but was satisfied by the career-high run into quarterfinals.
"This is the deepest we’ve ever gone into the CIF Playoffs since I’ve been coaching there," Shavers said, "…that just shows we’re continually getting better. So I’m expecting even more next year, but I was pleased, I thought they gave it their best."
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune paid honor to the team by naming Brahmas singles player Melody Chen at the top of the publication's tennis singles selections and two doubles tandems of Monika Kozan and Jocelyn Chen and the quarterfinals team of Lee and Wang to the top one and two doubles spots, respectively.
While last year's importance was impressive, there's a reason for the Hacienda League to keep its guard up: Kozan is the only senior on the junior-laden team and Wang was promoted from the No. 3 doubles spot at the beginning of the season up to the No. 2 spot to combine with Lee.
Wang and Lee since qualified for the CIF-SS Individual Doubles Girls Tennis Tournament, where they reached the Round of 32 and lost in a third-set tiebreaker.
“I wanted the girls to play at every level,” Shavers said. “I wanted every varsity level player to be able to play with either a lower-level player, as well as a higher-level player… our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles changed throughout the season.
"Also, our girls were able to play singles as well as doubles, and I think that’s very important in high school tennis.”
With the No.1 doubles team of Kozan and Chen set, Shavers at times had to juggle her No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams, before finding the right mix of Lee and Wang at the No. 2 slot and her junior daughter, Dehavelyn Shavers and Padmaja Krishnan at No. 3.
“The biggest challenge was making sure the girls had the proper partners to play with,” Shavers said. “Because sometimes in doubles, it’s not a matter of just having two strong players, but you also have to match character as well as their abilities. So that’s one of the things we were able to do successfully this year.”
Shavers had plenty of team-building exercises. Some of them included get-to-know-you questionnaires at the beginning of the season, going out to the mall or movies, and fun games at the end of practices.
“One of the things that we do during our regimented practices is that we focus on our fundamentals,” Shavers said. “That’s how we were able to accomplish our goals this year, working on our fundamentals, honing them and being at their best.”
And what did Shavers learn from her girls?
“I learned that when they give me their best, I feel wonderful,” Shavers said. “I can learn to stay positive. It’s okay to have fun.”
And the team is likely to have fun in Hacienda League play next season, entering with a roster to watch.