A little coaxing and compromise has kept Beverly Hills High from being knocked out by its own 1-2 punch.
Riza Zalameda, the Normans' No. 2 tennis player as a freshman last year, considered sitting out this season, getting home-schooled and concentrating on playing in U.S. Tennis Assn. events--following the example of Iris Ichim, another sophomore who was Beverly Hills' No. 1 player last year.
"My dad and I talked and we tried to be honest and ask if I'm really ready to make that kind of total commitment to just play tennis," Zalameda said. "We just said, 'No, we have to keep this as normal as possible for right now.' "
Discussions with school officials and Beverly Hills first-year Coach Mike Margolin resulted in a flexible school and practice schedule that would fit around Zalameda's slate of tennis tournaments and private workouts.
Zalameda will practice with the Normans part-time and play matches as much as her schedule allows, and she has agreed to be available for the Southern Section playoffs.
"It took the whole summer to decide,' Zalameda said. 'But I'm glad I came back."
Busy schedule: It remains uncertain whether Arti Iyer, Villa Park's No. 2 player last year, will return to the team because of her other commitments.
Iyer, a junior attempting to meet requirements for early entrance to medical school, is loaded down with schoolwork and has yet to practice or play for Villa Park this season.
"She wants to play. She just doesn't know if she can handle everything," Villa Park Coach Sherry Smith said. "I told her to just do what she needs to do for the next couple of weeks and see what happens."
Opting out: Also on the comeback trail is sophomore Daron Moore, the No. 1 player last season for North Hollywood Campbell Hall.
When the season began, Moore was enrolled in school but hadn't joined the tennis team. Unlike Zalameda, she opted to focus on her own workouts and matches when Campbell Hall Coach Ben Harvey proved unwilling to allow his star player to determine her own schedule.
"I'll try to work with players, but I'm not going to give them carte blanche," Harvey said. "If they want to play, they have to practice."
Moore has since expressed interest in returning to the team.
"If she comes to practice, she'll play--at No. 3," Harvey said.
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GIRLS' TENNIS / THE TIMES' RANKINGS
1. Palos Verdes Peninsula (0-0, SS-Bay)
Next 16 days will tell for Panthers, who play five top-10 teams.
2. Corona del Mar (0-0, SS-Pacific Coast)
Many predict Sea Kings will be unbeaten at end of season.
3. Palm Desert (1-0, SS-Desert Valley)
Robyn Baker and Casey Cross are on their games for Aztecs.
4. Fullerton Troy (0-0, SS-Freeway)
Youngest Fermin sister made like older siblings and won debut.
5. Newport Harbor (0-0, SS-Sea View)
Division III runner-up has interesting opener against Sunny Hills.
6. Beverly Hills (0-0, SS-Bay)
Normans, without Iris Ichim, open season against Mira Costa.
7. Calabasas (1-0, SS-Frontier)
Coyotes have chance to show their strength against Peninsula.
8. Irvine Woodbridge (0-0, SS-Sea View)
Warriors open with litmus-test week, playing Irvine University, Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar in four-day span.
9. North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (0-0, SS-Mission)
Another top team pointing toward playing Peninsula.
10. Laguna Beach (0-0, SS-Pacific Coast)
Artists will tackle demanding schedule with experienced lineup.