FALLBROOK – Dec. 14 was the first day of San Diego County’s High School World Team Tennis (WTT) season, with the Fallbrook Warriors one of 19 teams taking part, opening their season with a solid win over Escondido’s Orange Glen, 31-14. World Team Tennis is a popular form of professional tennis, allowing team competition in what is traditionally an individual sport, and it has now segued into high school tennis. Last year, San Diego County was selected as the first county in the nation to “road test” the WTT format at the high school level.
The WTT teams are co-ed. In some ways it is more like a basketball or baseball game than tennis, as substitutions can be made at any time during the match. And unlike the traditional Wimbledonian hush during points, WTT encourages the players to be raucous and shout encouragement for their teammates. A set is won at five games rather than six, and any game going to deuce is decided by a single tiebreaker (“no ad”) point. A match consists of 6 sets: mens doubles, ladies doubles, mens singles, ladies singles, and two sets of mixed doubles. The winner of the match is the team with the most individual games won, rather than sets.
Last season the Fallbrook Warriors were among the league’s best with a 7-1 record, their only loss by one point. This season, returning coach Randy Hicks feels equally good about this year’s team, “We’ve got most of the girls back from last year’s team, except now they have an extra year’s experience, so we are really strong on the girls’ side. And on the guys’ side we have Christian Rojas-Bartlett coming back, and some good varsity-level new guys joining the team. I think we are going to be pretty solid.”
In the Dec. 14 match, the Warriors won all six sets. In women’s doubles, the starting team was Jaylene Romero and Joellen Banks, with Rebecca Dupont subbing in for Romero, winning the set 5-1. In men’s doubles, “the Christians,” Christian Rojas-Bartlett and Christian Richmond, opened the set with Louie Faulkner coming in for Richmond to wrap up the set 6-4.
The women’s singles match was won 5-2, with first Romero, then Banks, and DuPont coming in as the closer. The men’s singles match was 5-3, with Richmond, then Rojas-Bartlett, followed by Faulkner combining for the win. One mixed doubles set featured first Romero and Richmond, then Rojas-Bartlett and Banks, combining for a 5-0 win. The second mixed doubles set paired DuPont and Faulkner, who came away with a 6-4 victory.