It’s obvious how in tune Central Valley girls tennis standout Leslie Ho and teammates Samantha Block and Charlotte Schmitz are with one another.
When separately asked to describe a moment that stood out this season, there was no mention of the Bears’ ascension in the Greater Spokane League the past few seasons.
Not one of them noted their individual successes – and there have been plenty – either.
All immediately referenced what can only be classified as a “Chalichism” – which, after 44 years of coaching at CV, time-honored Stan Chalich has earned the right to share with his young players.
“He says weird things a lot,” said Ho, who will represent the Bears as the GSL’s top-seeded singles player in this weekend’s 4A regional tennis tournament, with a fourth straight state tournament appearance on the line.
“We were playing Mt. Spokane – the Wildcats, you know? – and he said, “You guys know cats – wildcats? Bears eat wildcats,’” she added, laughing. “We’re just like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about right now.’ ”
“It was probably the quote of the season,” said Block, who has teamed up with fellow senior Schmitz to try and make a run for the State 4A doubles title.
“He’s had many others the past four years, but that has to be the best one,” Schmitz said. “We love him. We have a lot of fun.”
It’s not difficult to figure why.
The GSL has traditionally been dominated – with exceptions, of course – by schools like Gonzaga Prep, Ferris, Lewis and Clark and Mead. But the past two seasons have belonged to Chalich’s Bears, who were undefeated in GSL regular-season play in 2011 and lost just one match this season.
“They matured and they stuck together,” Chalich said of his senior quartet – Ho, Megan Rindlisbacher, Block and Schmitz – who, respectively, were Chalich’s top four singles players all season and have been playing together since junior high.
“You put the game on the line with any of them – and you never have to remind them to compete,” he added. “They’re like me. I don’t care if I’m playing you in a friendly game of marbles, I’m going to beat your butt. Bottom line.”
That’s been the bottom line for Block and Schmitz, who frequently finish each other’s sentences.
Since teaming up for districts, they’re undefeated and are the GSL’s No. 1 seed this weekend.
“We’re best friends, so we work well together,” Block said. “She’s better at the baseline and she has a better forehand, while I have a better backhand.”
“I look for an open court, and she’s more, ‘Oh, there’s a person, I’m going to try and hit them.’ It’s kind of funny,” Schmitz added. “We balance each other out.”
Rindlisbacher, who was undefeated as the Bears’ No. 2 player all season, would also likely be in the mix this weekend.
But she injured her left ankle while the Bears played at the Boise tournament on April 27 and is living with the disappointment in a boot after spending the first semester of this school year at the Advantage Tennis Academy in Irvine, Calif.
That leaves Ho, who has lost a total of three matches this season, as the Bears’ lone singles’ representative.
“I like representing CV and giving us a name,” said Ho, who hopes to stay local and play tennis at Eastern Washington University next year.
“My goal this year is definitely to place in the top five at state,” she added, “but I have to get through this weekend first. I’m confident.
“I really, more than anything, want us all to get to state as a team and win together. I just want us to win.”
Which is certainly a goal Chalich would co-sign.