Phoebe holds court

Phoebe Bachofer’s tennis career turned the corner as a freshman
in the 1999 Monterey Bay League girls tennis final. Her opponent
was junior Sabrina Gomez of Gilroy. Gomez schooled a young Bachofer
that day with a 6-1, 6-3 lesson.
Phoebe Bachofer’s tennis career turned the corner as a freshman in the 1999 Monterey Bay League girls tennis final. Her opponent was junior Sabrina Gomez of Gilroy. Gomez schooled a young Bachofer that day with a 6-1, 6-3 lesson. It was the third time in three meetings Bachofer had fallen to her new-found rival that year.

“She kicked my b—-,” said Bachofer, now a senior at Hollister High. “She was spectacular. That’s when I learned what it took to win. I learned I had to be prepared for every tennis match, no matter who I play. I knew I must get everything out of every match I play.”

Bachofer used the long offseason to condition herself by use of lifting weights and eating better. And of course, she played a lot of tennis and worked fastiduously on her game. When she was a sophomore and Gomez was a senior, Bachofer was ready. After splitting their two regular season matches, Bachofer dethroned Gomez in the 2000 MBL final in straight sets – 6-2, 7-5.

“That was my biggest thrill in high school,” said Bachofer. “Just winning that title as a sophomore.”

Bachofer repeated the feat as MBL champ in 2001 with a breezy 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Mai Ikeda of North Salinas. On Thursday, Bachofer attempts to win the Tri-County Athletic League championship, which would be her third consecutive league title. Semifinals and the TCAL final are on Friday, pending projected rain. Play will be held at the Ridgemark Tennis Center, as if Bachofer, who will be the mega top seed going into the tournament, needs an advantage.

“This is my house,” said Bachofer of RTC, half-joking.

It virtually is. Ridgemark tennis pro Claudio Carnota has been giving Bachofer lessons for the past five years. There is another scheduled for tonight.

“Phoebe is much more powerful now than she was then,” said Carnota. “She has been training seriously. She plays at a high speed and plays dominant angles.”

On Monday night at Ridgemark, Bachofer tuned up for the TCAL’s with a match with tennis partner Bill Marder. Marder was in the top 10 of the adult men’s 4.5 league in 2001. Marder defeated Bachofer 6-4, 6-4.

“Not many can hang with Bill around here,” said Bachofer, who estimates she has played Marder 20 times. “He beats everybody.”

“Phoebe has a great upside,” said Marder, an attorney in Hollister. “She’s going to be a dominant force for some Division I teams. She could beat a lot of men in the 4.5 league. She’s ready for a higher level of competition.”

Bachofer was introduced to the game of tennis by her parents when she was three. She didn’t start playing seriously until she was 11, when she entered some Novice tournaments. Her latest18-and under NorCal ranking is 54th and she’s currently ranked in the 640’s in the nation. Her next USTA tournament is this weekend in Gilroy.

“Phoebe’s always loved the game of tennis,” said Luz Bachofer, Phoebe’s mother, and one of her biggest fans, along with her father, Jack. “I always enjoy watching her because she plays with such passion. She goes for the shot.”

Anyone who knows Phoebe personally and/or has observed her playing tennis, knows about her innate sense of sportsmanship.

“Phoebe always has something nice to say about an opponent,” said Luz. “Other players come up to me and tell me how nice Phoebe is.”

Bachofer admits to only one incident where she had “problems” dealing with an opponent. That was at the Zonals in Utah last summer.

“I played a girl from Minnesota and I was watching her play some of my teammates and she was cheating on line calls,” said Bachofer. “I said to myself that she won’t do that when she played me. So I played her and she started calling balls I hit in, out. I yelled at her, ‘That’s not out! It’s in!’ I sent for a line judge. The line judge overruled her calls a few times and she got frustrated. I knew I had her beat then.”

Bachofer won the match 6-4, 6-4.

“She came up to me and asked me how old I was,” said Bachofer. “When I told her I was 17, she said, ‘Well, I’m only 13’, like I beat a 13 year-old. Besides, she looked like Anna Kournikova and that was one strike against her.”

Bachofer almost didn’t come out for the Baler team this fall. She didn’t start practicing with the team until a couple weeks into the season.

“She was frustrated,” said Luz. “She was feeling the pressure.”

“The problem is Phoebe has no competition in the league,” said Carnota. “She’d have more competition just playing tournaments.”

One Baler teammate is very happy Bachofer decided to come out, senior Nicole Conley.

“Phoebe and I are the best of friends,” said Conley. “We’re friends through tennis, but we’re also friends off the court. She’s taught be so much about strategies and about the mental part of the game.”

Another, Elena Briber, who played No. 2 singles behind Bachofer’s No. 1 this season, can only watch and admire.

“Phoebe has such a strong serve,” said Briber. “Her fast-paced shots are hard to return.”

Baler head tennis coach Ed Cecena said Phoebe’s technique is like Andre Aggasi’s.

“She picks the ball up early,” said Cecena. “She has good hand-eye coordination. Instead of waiting for the big hop, she returns it quickly, which keeps her opponent off-balance. Plus she hits the ball two-handed from both sides like Monica Seles. She plays the power game. She’s the whole package. I’ve enjoyed having her on the team this season, even though she’s had some injuries.”

“I’m going to miss the bus rides back from matches,” said Bachofer. “We laugh and tell stories and drive the coaches crazy.”

For her first three years, Bachofer’s coach was Cindy Mackie.

“I’ll miss coach Mackie and coach Cecena,” said Bachofer. “They kept the tennis program going at the school. The little kids who come to the match, they’re the next generation of tennis players. And Claudio, he’s like a second father to me.”

As for the team, Bachofer isn’t too disappointed in the Balers

“We played as a team,” said Bachofer. “Some teams don’t click together, but this one got along really well. I want one of our doubles team to go to CCS, too. I watched Nicole and Danielle (Patino) practice Monday and they had good chemistry.”

Bachofer’s talents stray off the court. She’s had piano lessons the past five years and has been composing songs for eight years.

“I’ve written 10 songs,” she said. “Two are musically ready to record. They’re just about everyday issues people have to deal with.”

Bachofer admits to having a tennis offer to a Division II school, but won’t divulge which one. She’d prefer a Division I school near the beach where she can be one of the top three players on the team. She desires to study either Criminal Justice and/or Pre-med Psychology.

“Ever since I saw the movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’, I’ve been interested in Forensics,” said Bachofer.

Expect Bachofer to be silencing her opponents on her way to her third consecutive league title. If she does, it would be quite an eventful Friday. She’s been tabbed a homecoming princess and could possibly be announced homecoming queen at halftime of the Balers’ football game with Salinas.

Then she would truly be Queen of her Court.

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