Valencia tennis’ Amanda Tabanera commits to Valparaiso University

Valencia's Amanda Tabanera prepares to hit the ball with a forehand against Cameron Schwartz on Thursday afternoon at Hart High School. Eddy Martinez/The Signal

Valencia’s No. 1 singles player Amanda Tabanera has been an integral part of the Vikings tennis team for four years, and now she will continue her playing career as a Crusader after committing to Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Tabanera is receiving a four-year merit and athletic based scholarship to the Division 1 university.

“I feel so happy to have already found out where I am going and getting to play tennis at the next level,” Tabanera said. “Now I don’t have any more stress. All the hours playing have finally paid off.”

As a junior, Tabanera made a connection with the head coach of the Valparaiso Crusaders Tammy Cecchini, who was the first coach to reach out to her.

The bond grew stronger between the two, which ultimately led Tabanera to her decision to join the Crusaders.

“I thought it was a perfect fit for me. I visited several schools and Valpo felt right for me,” she said. “I love the coach and the team and it just felt right. Especially the coach. Junior year she was the first person to contact me and was super interested and ever since we’ve stayed in touch.”

Tabanera has been a force in the Foothill League ever since her freshman year, when she won the league title in doubles with partner Jennifer Shin in 2015. She topped that in her sophomore campaign, winning the Foothill League singles title after dropping only three games in four rounds back in the 2016 prelims.

In 2017, Tabanera once again took home the doubles crown in league and made it to the semifinals in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs along with her partner Carlotta Nonnis-Marzano.

With prelims coming up next week followed by the playoffs, Tabanera is poised to make another big run this year.

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“I’ve still been practicing as always, I haven’t stopped,” she said. “I definitely want to do well so I’m going to work hard for that. The competition this year will be tough but I am looking forward to it.”

While Tabanera is focused on finishing her senior season on a high note, she can’t help but get excited for her future at the small private school located a mere 20 miles from Lake Michigan.

For one, the weather will be a change of pace for the Southern California native.

“I know obviously the weather there is a lot more extreme but I really wanted to go away and see what it’s like to have seasons and have a change in scenery,” she said.

Despite the change of scenery, Tabanera will never forget all the lessons she learned at Valencia while playing for head coach Annie Kellogg.

“Coach Kellogg is amazing. It’s sad leaving her but the team has grown so much,” Tabanera said. “We’re so close, we’re like a family. It’s going to be hard leaving them.”

Valencia closes out league play against West Ranch tonight on its home courts before prelims start up next week. The match begins at 3 p.m.

“I know we play West Ranch tomorrow and I’m excited because they are our biggest rival,” she said. “That’s definitely the motivation for right now.”

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