Sisters lead Oak Ridge sports teamsBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
One swings a golf club and the other a tennis racquet and both were at the top of their game for Oak Ridge High sports teams this fall.
The Almeida sisters, Carolyn and Madeline, were the school’s best athletes on the golf and tennis teams, respectively. Carolyn, a 16-year-old junior, and Madeline, a 14-year-old freshman, had equally strong seasons.
Carolyn has only been playing golf for three years, but quickly came into her own in the sport, as she made the varsity team as a freshman two years ago, less than a year after picking the sport up. This past year by working with Chelsea Stelzmiller at Serrano Country Club, Carolyn improved her game even more, lowering her handicap from 10 to 4.6.
“My year went pretty well,” Carolyn said. “I finished third in the league and won a Delta River League 18-hole tournament. I also won three nine-hole tournaments.”
Her coach, Tony Diaz, was impressed by Carolyn’s junior season.
“She is the leader and foundation of our team,” Diaz said. “Through her dedication and commitment to the game, she has become one of the best golfers not only in the Delta River League but in the area. Carolyn was voted by her teammates as the MVP and captain. She is role model and inspiration for everyone on the team, and I am looking forward to seeing what she can achieve her senior year next year.”
Were in not for an injury, Carolyn would probably be playing tennis instead of golf.
“I played tennis up until seventh grade but a foot injury made me find a sport where I didn’t have to run,” Carolyn said. “Golf sort of chose me rather than me choosing golf.”
Carolyn has worked very hard at the game, as she practices six days a week and gets on the course at least once a week during the winter months. She said hitting her driver and long irons are her strengths as a player, as well as her strong mental game.
Carolyn hopes to play golf at the collegiate level after graduating from Oak Ridge in 2015.
Madeline has been playing tennis since she was 5 years old. Her dad coached her until she was 10 when Roberto Maggio took over her training.
“I like tennis because it’s a sport for a lifetime, and I also like it because it’s an individual sport,” said Madeline, who said her forehand is the strength of her game.
Her coach at Oak Ridge, Ralph Clark, said there’s a lot more to her game than her forehand.
“Madeline is very consistent,” Clark said. “She keeps the ball coming back, which frustrates her opponent. If her opponent is a little slow recovering and gets a little out of position, Madeline can end the point. She's very patient and will work the point, willing to hit 20 shots on every point. It puts a lot of pressure on her opponent.”
Madeline had an impressive freshman season, playing most of the time against older players. She only lost three matches all season and was the Delta River League’s Most Valuable Player and league champion.
“I knew the competition would be hard,” Madeline said. “I just went out there and played my hardest.”
Clark said, “Madeline had a great freshman year, leading her team to a league championship and its first NorCal appearance since 2006. She is a tireless competitor with unlimited potential.”
Madeline is currently ranked in the top-10 of all under-14 girls in Northern California. Her immediate goal is to move up into the top-five of those rankings.
Madeline is also constantly working on her game, playing tennis seven days a week. Like her older sister, she would also like to play collegiately.