By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
For many coaches, it’s not just about a job or the outcome on the scoreboard — it’s about sharing a love of the game and teaching future generations.
Chris Mansfield, former Hart girls’ tennis coach from 2007 to 2016, who also coached the boys from 1980 to 2016, recently shared how much it means to him to be able to watch his former players as they coach, lead, teach and share their passion for the game.
Mansfield coached Proyfon Lohaphaisan, Jackie Ressler and Bailey Sindle, who were all part of the Hart High program between 2011 and 2015. All three players who learned and gained experience under Mansfield went on to compete at the collegiate level, and eventually came back to Santa Clarita to become coaches in the Foothill League.
“It means a lot. Those kids were amazing players, and they’re now making great coaches,” said Mansfield. “They taught me dedication and how hard players can really work to become a team. The dedication to each other was amazing. They sprung a lot of joy out on the courts. They were so much fun.”
Sindle was part of the top doubles team for Hart during her playing days, while Lohaphaisan and Ressler were leaders in singles play, according to Mansfield, who keeps in contact with his former players and looks forward to seeing what they can do in the future.
Lohaphaisan was the youngest of the three coaches (Sindle and Ressler are one year ahead of her), and she’s currently an assistant coach for the Valencia Vikings. Lohaphaisan played all four years under Mansfield.
“Proyfon was so efficient,” said Mansfield, praising the player who was highly regarded as a high schooler. Lohaphaisan was ranked as high as No. 30 in California and went undefeated during her time at Hart in league and postseason play. She went on to play at Quinnipiac University for four years (2015-19), and as a freshman and sophomore, she made the first team All-MAAC at No. 6 singles, including being unanimously named as a freshman. As a junior, she was first team All-MAAC as No. 5 singles and No. 2 doubles.
“It’s nice to be back home,” said Lohaphaisan, when asked what it means to be coaching in the Foothill League. “It’s a totally different perspective and I never thought I’d be back in this position altogether. Mansfield was always there for me to be lighthearted and to not always put pressure on myself. Mansfield always knew how to make practices and matches fun.”
Ressler is in her second season as the head coach for the West Ranch Wildcats. Ressler also played all four years under Mansfield.
“Jackie adapted the game to whoever she played,” said Mansfield. “She would dominate in singles and continue beating players even when they were more talented because she was smarter than them.”
As a freshman at Hart, she was named the Most Dedicated Player for the first time out of four. From her sophomore year moving forward, she led her team to the CIF quarterfinals every year, which also included a semifinals trip during her senior year. Ressler would go on to play at Azusa Pacific for all four years (2015-19) and won 31 total games as a freshman between singles and doubles, tied for most on the team.
“It’s a huge honor to be able to coach in this league — I like this league a lot,” said Ressler. “It’s not a coincidence but it’s funny, (Bailey and Proyfon) and I all followed the same path together. (Mansfield) always made sure I was doing OK. I was a scrappy player and he was always patient with me. He always told me to just go out there and play Jackie ball because that is what I do best.”
Sindle is in her second season as head coach for the Saugus Centurions. Sindle, who was in the same grade as Ressler, played all four years under Mansfield before playing at Ventura College.
“Bailey was part of the top doubles team for two years,” said Mansfield.
Her doubles play carried over into her college career, where she played for three years and was part of the No. 1 singles and doubles teams. She was only supposed to be there for two years (2015-17) but in the middle of her second year, Sindle fractured her back and ended up redshirting. She was supposed to transfer to a four-year school after her final year, but ended up reinjuring herself and had to decline.
It was then suggested that Sindle become a coach, completely changing her life, but she considers it a blessing in disguise.
“It was very surreal at first. I was a young new coach in a league where the tennis coaches had been around for a long time and were well known,” said Sindle when asked about being a coach in the Foothill League. “I knew I was joining a great team of coaches but I owe my success to (Mansfield). Mansfield was a stellar coach, not just because of his love for tennis, but because he genuinely cared about us as people, not just athletes. I think it’s safe to say his shoes and the impact he left on coaching tennis at Hart can never be filled.”
Chris Manfield’s legacy
The impact Mansfield has had on these women as well as the countless other players is immeasurable, they say. Even when they had already graduated, Mansfield would stay in close contact with them, ask them what they were doing with their careers and even drove out to their matches just to support them.
The women loved all the memories they made together under Mansfield and continue to make memories together on the court as opposing teams, but still instill the same mindset Mansfield gave to them: Have fun, play your game and keep your head up.
Mansfield could not be more proud of them and looks forward to where their future takes them, he said.
“We won two Foothill League championships together when Valencia was tough every year,” said Mansfield. “It makes me very happy and proud. They are gonna make amazing coaches because they’ve got the right attitude and love for the game and players.”