Sports

HEAVY HITTERS

Mater Dei girls tennis standouts aim for success

By Dan Arritt     10/9/2019

Opportunities like these don’t come knocking very often. 

Natasha Hill has put herself at the doorstep of joining an elite group of four-time Trinity league champions. 

She won doubles titles as a freshman, sophomore and junior for the Mater Dei girls’ tennis team, each time with a different partner. 

Hill would be the clear favorite to win it all again this season, even with a fourth different partner. Her sidekick last season, Colby Bennett, has returned to playing indoor volleyball for the Monarchs this fall. 

The possibility of winning a fourth straight league title is exciting for Hill, but she’s also torn between pursuing that rare feat in doubles, or take a whack at winning her first singles title. 

“As much as I love doubles, I’ve been training so hard for singles over the summer,” Hill said. 

Though she would prefer to play singles in the postseason, creating a bigger personal challenge and providing more visibility to college recruiters, Hill is ready to fit in where Mater Dei coach Mike Moorewood needs her. 

After all, winning the team title is the ultimate goal. 

Hill has certainly shown her ability to adapt to Mater Dei’s needs. 

As a freshman, she won the league championship with Katherine Nguyen, a senior who fit with Hill like a well-worn glove. 

“Katherine was so consistent, always got the ball in, and I was like the hard hitter/poacher,” Hill said. “We were like Ying and Yang, so it worked perfectly.”   

After Nguyen graduated, Hill turned to Katie Hernandez for the league title run two years ago. 

Hernandez had struggled with a wrist injury most of the season, but teamed up with Hill to not only win the league championship, but advance to the round of 16 in the CIF-SS individual tournament. 

Hernandez was also a senior, so Hill had to find a new partner last season as well. 

Bennett wasn’t a likely choice for Hill heading into last season. She had not played high school tennis before, and the sophomore was initially assigned to the junior varsity team. 

Her natural ball-striking abilities and keen sense of the game soon stood out to Hill and the rest of the Monarchs, however. 

Bennett had played tennis as a youth, along with soccer, basketball and beach volleyball, and her athleticism was on full display on the court as well. 

“She’s the most athletic person I have ever met,” Hill said. 

Even after Bennett committed to play beach volleyball at USC, she stuck with her desire to play tennis last season and was quickly promoted to the varsity. 

Hill soon invited Bennett to team up for another league title run. 

“Out of the entire team, I just saw the most inspiration out of her, the most dedication and the most talent,” Hill said. “She didn’t have all the proper technique, but she had the form, and knew what to do at certain points, which most people didn’t know how to do.”   

Hill’s success hasn’t resulted in a scholarship offer from a Division I college, so she said she’s prepared to walk-on, if invited. Hill said she has been in contact with a number of Division I teams and will visit a few campuses later this fall. 

In the meantime, she still has something big to chase with the Monarchs. 

 

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