All-Empire Girls Tennis Player of the Year: Maria Carrillo’s Fu Long

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat Maria Carrillo sophomore Fu Long.

CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat
Maria Carrillo sophomore Fu Long.

Another dominating high school girls tennis player has been named The Press Democrat’s All-Empire Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Time will tell if Maria Carrillo’s Fu Long can match the accomplishments of Montgomery alums Monica Borowicz and Emily Gould, who both won three consecutive All-Empire player of the year honors, starting with their sophomore years.

This past season, Long handled local competition so effortlessly, she was an easy choice for the honor. Not only was she the top player in the North Bay League, she won an opening-round match in the North Coast Section Tournament.

RELATED: Find out who made the  Press Democrat All-Empire Girls Tennis Team here

“She improved quite a bit over her freshman season and I’m quite sure she’s just going to get better,” Pumas coach Bob Harbaugh said.

To make sure that happens, for the past four years, Long has been taking lessons at least three times per week from pro Corky Cramer.

“Right now, we’re working on conditioning and fitness,” Long said. “I want to play in college, so I have a lot of work to do.”

Cramer thinks Long will not only play for a Division I university, she might also wind up going pro.

“Fu hasn’t recognized how good she can be,” Cramer said. “She has a very complete game now and with her dedication, one day I see her being good enough to go pro.”

Cramer has experience coaching professionals. He worked with a Canadian Davis Cup team and also Olympic gold medalist Daniel Nestor.

“I haven’t coached anyone with Fu’s potential in many years,” Cramer added. “Not only does she have all the shots, her tennis IQ is very high.”

That’s not surprising considering she carries a 4.17 grade-point average at Maria Carrillo.

Long first picked up a tennis racquet in the fifth grade at Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School.

“I was just looking to have fun and tennis looked like fun,” she said. “The more I played, the more I liked it.

“I enjoy the individual side of it. In singles, it’s just you and your opponent on the court.”

Harbaugh, who has watched the 5-foot-8 Long in all her high school matches, is impressed with the way she quickly figures out her opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Fu adapts her game to her opponent,” he said. “If the opponent likes pace, she hits softer shots so they’ll over hit. If the opponent has a weak backhand, that’s where she attacks.”

On offense, Long possesses a big serve and blistering ground strokes.

“At this stage, she reminds me of a young Martina Navratilova,” Cramer said. “The only difference is that Fu’s not a lefty.”