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GIRLS' TENNIS

Dana Hills Player Wins Match Against City Hall

September 19, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Chip Dunbar is not the best player on the Dana Hills girls' tennis team, but she is undoubtedly the most powerful. If the No. 2-ranked Dolphins go on to win a Southern Section title this season, they can give an assist to Dunbar, their city hall lobbyist.

If not for Dunbar, a junior who is 3-3 with Adrianna Maracini at No. 3 doubles, they might have spent more time dodging potholes this season than hitting forehands.

"The courts were a health hazard," said Dunbar, who played on the junior varsity last season. "There were holes all over them. We were getting sick and tired of losing points on bad bounces."

Last spring, Dana Hills Coach Jim Wilson began raising money to fix the dilapidated courts, which had not been resurfaced since the early 1990s.

"The courts were so fast and so bumpy, you'd knock the fuzz off the balls in less than a set," Wilson said. "The two courts next to the softball field were starting to chip from all the water that had drained down during the rainy season."

Just as the fund-raising drive began, Dunbar told Wilson of her plan to lobby city council.

"I didn't know if it would work," Wilson said. "But I told her, 'You go, Girl.' "

Dunbar wasn't much more optimistic.

"I thought it was kind of a lost cause," she said. "I didn't think the Dana Point city council would listen to my plea for money for tennis courts. They usually give money to things like beach clean-up."

But after attending a city council meeting with her father, Dunbar decided she might as well try. So she wrote a paper outlining her argument. Then, she signed up to speak at the next meeting.

"I made the point that the city makes money off the courts by giving lessons and selling court time," she said. "So why shouldn't they help pay for upgrading the courts. I don't think they knew all of that. I don't think they were aware the courts were in such bad shape."

The council told her the city would fund half the refurbishing project if the Capistrano Unified School District kicked in the other half. Dunbar then called the school district, which agreed. A month later, the Dana Point City council voted, 5-0, to fund its half of the $12,000 project.

Over the summer, workers stripped the court surface and laid down a royal blue surface with a green background.

"I didn't like the colors at first, but they're starting to grow on me," Dunbar said.

Said Wilson: "The courts have gone from super fast to medium slow. I was a little worried about giving up our home-court advantage. But the kids are getting used to them."

Wilson said most of the team had no idea they had Dunbar to thank for their new surface.

"I didn't do a thing," he said. "She took the initiative. What an inventive kid. She's a very bright and articulate girl and she never tooted her own horn once."

Dunbar said there was a reason for that.

"I heard some of the girls on the team say they thought the only reason I did all this was so I could make varsity," she said. "I did it because I wanted to play on better tennis courts."

The school district took note of Dunbar's effort--giving her an "extra-miler recognition award" at the Sept. 11 board meeting. Dr. Jim Fleming, superintendent of the Capistrano Union School District, gave Dunbar a certificate and a copy of "Eyewitness to Power" by David Gergen, who worked in the Reagan and Clinton administrations.

"I admire that kind of initiative, especially in a high school student," Fleming said. "She reached out to two different government agencies and got them to work together. It's rather unusual."

Fleming said he wouldn't be surprised to see Dunbar in politics someday.

"For a high school student to have that much self-assuredness, it's rare," he said. "It speaks well of her future."

Dunbar had thought her future would include a career in the FBI, but she's rethinking those plans.

"My mom read the book and said it was pretty good," she said. "So I think maybe I'll give it a try."

LOOKING AHEAD

Defending Division I champion Palos Verdes Peninsula will host Corona del Mar, the top-ranked team in Orange County, at 2 p.m. today. Corona del Mar Coach Andy Stewart said he would like his team's chances a lot better if he had his entire lineup intact. The Sea Kings will be without singles players Kim Singer (shoulder injury) and Brittany Reitz, a transfer from St. Margaret's who is not eligible until Oct. 15.

"If we had Kimmy and Brittany, I'd be able to move some of my better singles players into doubles," Stewart said. "I've played them twice and I've yet to take a doubles set from them. They've got some big girls and they play doubles the right way."

To compensate for Peninsula's doubles power, Stewart said he will probably need big-time performances from singles players Anne Yelsey, Leslie Damion and Brittany Holland.

"Anne probably needs to sweep and either Leslie or Brittany needs to win two," Stewart said.

That won't be easy, considering Peninsula has the hard-hitting Shilpa Joshi and Colby Comstock at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.

"Colby is a great player," Stewart said. "You've got to be a little patient and you've got to get to the net."

If you have an item or idea for the girls' tennis report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at dave.mckibben@latimes.com

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