She's qualified because: Went 25-0 against Central Section competition while winning her third straight section individual tournament title. She's 46-0 in the section in two years and 76-2 for her career. She was only beaten this season at the Southern California High School Badminton Championships, where she went 2-2.
His name was Lukas Witzansky, the power behind Pookie Gonzalez that few knew outside of Bullard High.
"He came from heaven," Knights badminton coach Natalie Teague says.
To set the stage: Teague's greatest challenge has been to find someone to compete in practice with Gonzalez, unbeaten in the Central Section for two seasons and The Bee's repeat Player of the Year.
"My wish is to keep pushing her, of course," Teague says.
The wish was granted this season in the form of Witzansky, a foreign exchange student and former age group national badminton champion from Denmark.
When Witzansky was seen beating the most skilled player on campus – Bullard basketball coach Tony Amundsen – in P.E. badminton, the word spread quickly.
Teague seized the opportunity and recruited Witzansky as a "student instructor."
To be fair, she recruited him to elevate the game of Gonzalez: "How many kids have the chance to get better every day by trying to beat the national champion from Denmark?"
The coach places emphasis on "trying" because Gonzalez never did.
But oh for the attempt EVERY day in practice.
"I wanted to play him just to see how many points I'd get," Gonzalez says of the 6-foot-1, 17-year-old whose jump smashes would fly past her "with fumes on the back of the birdie."
At first, Gonzalez didn't score at all in a game generally played to 11.
Then one point.
Then, my gosh, six: "I was so excited – more than half. It was a huge thing to me."
Then the challenge: "I told him one day I was going to get over six. He said, 'That's never going to happen. The day you get more than six, I'm going to buy you dinner.' "
"I lost 11-8," she says. "And he stuck to his word."
The menu: "Pizza and ice cream."
In a 25-0 season against section competition Gonzalez was threatened once, and that occurred against Clovis High's Bee All-Star Chiara Nardocci for the section individual tournament title.
Gonzalez had to rally from an 11-6 deficit to win 15-14. And Teague's convinced the difference, in the end – especially when the match was tied 14-14 – were all those duels with the Denmark Dandy.
"Being pushed by him made her win that match or I think she gets second place," Teague says.
Now for but one more wish entering Gonzalez's senior season in 2012.
"Every night," the coach says, "I pray someone sends me another foreign-exchange student."