When Amanda Tabanera was a little girl, she used to visit her grandparents in San Diego. While she was there, she would go watch the 16s and 18s US Hardcourt Nationals. “I would grow up watching these players that I thought were amazing,” Tabanera, a rising junior at Valencia High, said. Starting on Saturday, she’ll be taking part in the tournament she spent years watching. She’ll be in the 16s division, along with West Ranch tennis player Jordyn McBride, who originally was an alternate for the event.
The winner of the competition will receive a wild card entry into the US Open Juniors singles draw. “I think I’m very used to (the pressure) now since I’ve done a lot of tournaments in my life,” Tabanera said. “I’m not really nervous.” The reigning Foothill League singles champion has been playing in tournaments all summer. Most recently, she played in the United States Tennis Association Boys and Girls 16 and Under Zonal in Salt Lake City from July 26-31. McBride and Ashley Kua of Trinity Classical Academy were also among the 30 girls selected to represent the Southern California section. The players were separated into teams of six, where they played singles and doubles against teams from Utah, Hawaii, Northern California and more. McBride’s group had the highest finish, placing third overall in the tournament. Kua and her teammates finished ninth and Amanda’s group finished 10th. According to Tabanera, the most difficult aspect of the tournament was battling Utah’s high elevation. “It’s very different from California with the weather and the altitude,” she said. “So I really had to hydrate a lot more and be careful what I ate because it’s a lot easier to get injured or get cramps in Utah.” Playing tournaments in unfamiliar conditions only helps Tabanera work toward her goals leading up to this fall’s Foothill League play, which include a more confident serve and better physical strength. “You need strength, especially in a third set when you’re exhausted but that little bit more can determine if you win a match or not,” she said.