All-Empire girls tennis: Hard work pays off for Pumas’ Fu Long

By PETER FOURNIER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Maria Carrillo junior Fu Long (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Maria Carrillo junior Fu Long (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Fu Long wanted to try something new in fifth grade, so she took up tennis. She learned from her personal coach, Corky Cramer, and she couldn’t put down the racket.

The love Long developed for the game pushed her to win two North Bay League girls tennis titles and earned her two straight All-Empire Girls Tennis Player of the Year honors.

“It’s nice to know that all my hard work has paid off, because I’ve trained a lot during the summer, and put a lot of time into it,” Long said.

A junior at Maria Carrillo, the No. 1 Pumas singles player enjoyed an undefeated stint in NBL play this season and a second straight trip to the North Coast Section Division 1 tournament.

“I think she’s well-deserving, obviously,” Carrillo girls tennis coach Bob Harbaugh said. “She’s beaten every player in the county.”

When it comes to a match, Long says she tries not to let her foes command it.

“When I get on the court, I try not to let the opponent on the other side dictate my game,” Long said. “I try to play for myself.”

She also doesn’t claim to have a sole strength.

“I don’t really have a single game,” Long said. “I have a bunch of tools that I use. So it’s an all-around game. It depends on who I’m playing and the conditions around me.”

A wind-whipped match in the 2013 North Coast Section Division I opening round against Heritage’s Courtney Samuda didn’t go Long’s way. She lost a close match 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Cramer said Long’s potential is still growing.

“She has the most talent I’ve seen in any girl over 37 years,” Cramer said.

Long credits Cramer with helping her grow on the court in more ways than one.

“I’ve learned a lot of strategy, working on my mental game, overall mechanics and just becoming stronger as a player,” she said.

Cramer says Long can become comfortable during matches when she starts to pull ahead.

“The biggest challenge she has is not getting bored during the season,” he said. “How to stay hungry during the season; that’s the big challenge.”

Cramer observes that Long pushes all the way through matches now, not letting up when she feels like she’s comfortably ahead on the scoreboard.

“Fu is learning how to do that and not feel guilty about that,” Cramer said. “She really has to work hard on keeping those emotions in check.

“She understands you’re competing, and when you’re competing, the objective is to win.”

He said Long has learned to set specific goals, that she understands the values of setting goals no matter the time it takes to reach them.

“She’s really put her tennis career in a businesslike order, and that’s helped a lot because she’s a very structured individual,” he said.

During the offseason, Long will attempt to take her game to the next level — with the goal of winning an NCS match her senior year — by tackling tougher opponents outside the area and in USTA tournaments “so when she gets to NCS, she’s promptly prepared,” Harbaugh said.

After she graduates, Long, who has a 4.6 GPA, is interested in studying engineering.

She’s not sure where tennis will take her.

“I’m not quite sure how much tennis I want to play,” she said, “but tennis will still be in my life, as well as school in college.”

ALL-EMPIRE TEAM

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Fu Long, Maria Carrillo, Jr.

FIRST TEAM
LeLaina Beyer, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Kira Deguchi, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Emily Greco, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Haley Lyons, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Satvika Madadi, Casa Grande, Fr.
Hanna Monette, Maria Carrillo, Soph.
Laurel Ockenden, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Nicoline Pedersen, Petaluma, Jr.
Maddie Thomas, Petaluma, Jr.
Jade Wight, Analy, Fr.

SECOND TEAM
Preston Bernd, Cardinal Newman, Jr.
Lindsay Briebiescas, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Zoe Brook, Windsor, Sr.
Taylor Doran, Casa Grande, Sr.
Sami Eberhart, Montgomery, Sr.
Melanie Halligan, Casa Grande, Jr.
Vicky Nguyen, Piner, Sr.
Delaney Seymour, Montgomery, Jr.
Caroline Schlutius, Analy, Sr.
Sadie Schroeter, Cardinal Newman, Sr.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Bob Harbaugh, Maria Carrillo

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