Girls Tennis Doubles Team of the Year Olivia Luchini and Raquel Gonzales
Qualifications: Meshed as first-time partners this season, capturing the County/Metro Athletic Conference title and winning two matches at the North Area qualifier to earn the No. 2 seed for the Central Section individual tournament before pushing top-seeded Cara Kemp and Emily Horrigan of Stockdale in a 6-4, 6-4 loss in the final. Luchini, the CMAC Player of the Year for the second straight season and a three-time section individual tournament qualifier, was 25-2 in doubles and 13-5 in singles overall. Gonzales was 20-2 in doubles and 15-6 overall in singles.
Joining forces: Luchini, a returning All-Bee selection, and Gonzales, a first-year Memorial student who previously had been home schooled, have known each other for years through the Northern California junior tennis circuit. But they played together for the first time in the Panthers' season opener against Buchanan's Sienna Swain and Mary Kate Shellworth. Luchini and Gonzales rolled to an 8-1 win. "There was a buzz after that match that this could be a great team, and it sure was," Panthers coach Karen Luchini said. Luchini and Gonzales would play doubles together 21 times, losing twice. The first was a 7-5, 6-4 loss to defending section doubles runner-ups Chelsey Ruiz and Zoe Vargas of Bullard, a team they would later beat 6-3, 6-1 for the CMAC title.
Similar games: Panthers coach Karen Luchini describes both her daughter Olivia and Gonzales as power players with big serves. Olivia has good hands at the net and a slice backhand that plays well in high school tennis. Gonzales hits with great top spin and excels in using angles. "Their doubles style complements each other greatly," Karen Luchini said.
Coach says: "They just clicked. It's rare to find a doubles team that clicks like that. They both have a great passion for the game and understand what it takes to win. They know how to motivate each other when one was down or not playing their best. And they have great chemistry for where the other was on the court. Communication between the two was outstanding." -- Luchini.