David Riley is used to seeing the tennis court – after all, he’s successfully led the boys team the past few years to Los Padres League title runs and playoff berths at Cabrillo High.
But now, Riley will try his hand at taking over the girls program, as the former CHS water polo player will take over for longtime girls tennis head coach Mary Beth Steiber on the CHS courts this fall.
Riley and the Conquistadores will open the year on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in a home tilt against Righetti. Riley said that while he’s inexperienced when it comes to working with girl tennis players, he says the teaching methods he uses for the boys team will also be utilized for the girls.
“I’m doing exactly what I do with the guys. The game is pretty much the same,” Riley said during Monday afternoon’s practice. “We ensure we have our fundamentals and follow what we do. We’ve seen a lot of improvements since June. So it makes us super excited for the season.”
Riley isn’t showing any signs of nerves as he adds girls tennis coach to his resume.
“I never worked with girls. I’ve worked with girls in water polo but I’ve never coached girls in tennis. But it’s kind of neat to come in with a blank slate and not knowing what each girl can do. I’m super excited for this season. It’s going to be a fun one,” Riley said.
The longtime tennis coach has worked with the girls team since June. With the contest against the Warriors looming, Riley is still trying to figure out his lineup, but does have an idea of who his No. 1 player will be on the green court.
“It’s hard to say. Sierra Hohimer is our returner, though, and a three-year varsity letter winner. I can see her being our No. 1. Then Carly Atkin (at No. 2),” Riley said. “Some girls prefer to play doubles and we’re trying to integrate doubles. But Sierra will be the clear cut one at No. 1.”
Hohimer will enter her third season on varsity. The senior has already grown to like her new coach’s methods.
“It’s definitely a big change, but we absolutely love it,” Hohimer said. “We miss coach Stieber, but Riley is a great coach. They have different coaching styles. He’s good with footwork and incorporating everyone.”
Hohimer adds she believes she’s become a different tennis player.
“I believe I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten more physically active,” Hohimer said.
She doesn’t have much individual goals in mind, other than elevate her team to the LPL title under Riley’s direction.
“We have a great team. I want to help my team grow and watch me grow as a player and person,” Hohimer said.
Outside of the returning three-year varsity letter winner and Atkin, Riley and Hohimer point at Clancy Turner as another returning impact player with the tennis ball – as she was the No.3 player on the court last year.
Most coaches have a familiarity with their league opponents. On the boys side, Riley and the Conqs are used to dealing with Santa Ynez and Templeton in the LPL. But Riley, jokingly, says he’s not too familiar with who is the toughest on the girls’ side.
“The good news is? I don’t know,” Riley said, laughing. “Being brand new, it’s a fresh slate. I don’t know. I’ll see when the season comes but it’ll be fun and the coaches in the league are very good. I’m excited to compete against them again.”