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Manon returns to lead Kofa girls
After falling to No. 4 seeded Lidia Csernak-Hamilton in the second round of the state tournament last year, Michelle Manon spent the hot Yuma summer honing her game. As the lone returner on this year's Kings tennis team she has one goal, and one goal only – make the finals.
“It was a tough second round,” Manon said. “That experience actually changed me. It made me work harder, and during the summer I worked out a lot. I did sprints, I worked on my flexibility and my strength and all that.”
Manon said it was difficult to train in the intense heat, but she knows it will pay off this season.
“It makes it a lot easier (to play in the spring),” she said. “For example when we go to Lake Havasu, since it's fresh over there, it makes it easy for us to play because it's not like this heat, it's a lot colder.”
That training hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff either.
“She's been working extremely hard on some of the areas she's needed to work on,” Kofa coach Danilo Montialli said. “Especially her agility and quickness. She's been working extremely hard on that, plus her overall game she's very good. She has a very good forehand and an excellent backhand. She serves really well. It's just a matter of being exposed to that level more often and the confidence she carries with herself. She just has to go in and execute.”
Manon sits atop the depth chart at Kofa as a junior and while she's the only returner, she's a good one to have. Manon won 2012 Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Girls Tennis Player of the Year award with a 16-4 record.
Montialli has brought in a fresh crop of sophomores and hopes to see them step up like Manon did as a freshman.
“The main goal is to make everybody better on a daily basis,” Montialli said. “Work on the fundamentals and the physical aspect. Hopefully they mature sooner than later and hopefully they'll be able to do well this year and not have to wait until next year.”
Montialli preaches confidence in his practices, something he says young teams need more than anything.
“The quicker they are confident, the quicker they are going to get there,” he said. “You have to talk to them on a daily basis, it's a matter of playing the way you practice. You shouldn't be worried about anything like playing an older opponent. That shouldn't intimidate you. Just know how the game's played on the ground level and come out and play confident and execute the game plan.”
As a junior this year, Manon has stepped into a leadership role.
“Michelle is a really good leader,” Montialli said. “She really talks to them as well and tells them they're going to play and be confident and with confidence things will turn around.”