2010-10-14 / Sports

Serve, slice and everything nice

Calabasas sophomore is a welcome addition to girls’ tennis squad
By Eliav Appelbaum eliav@theacorn.com

RISING STAR—Calabasas High sophomore Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer returns a shot during a Marmonte League match against Thousand Oaks. Anton-Ohlmeyer is in her first season with the Coyotes. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers RISING STAR—Calabasas High sophomore Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer returns a shot during a Marmonte League match against Thousand Oaks. Anton-Ohlmeyer is in her first season with the Coyotes. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer is a happy, social and friendly teenager.

Then she steps onto the court.

Skies turn dark. The wind howls. The venue transforms into the Thunderdome of Mad Max’s world.

Instead of a place where two men enter, one man leaves— two girls enter and Anton-Ohlmeyer leaves . . . a winner.

A sophomore for the Calabasas High girls’ tennis team, Anton- Ohlmeyer doesn’t just exchange soft lobs with the girl on the other side of the net. She breaks them like a merciless Ivan Drago, only she does it with a smile.

“Alexa’s not only a great player,” said teammate Jennifer Aardema, “she’s the one girl on the team who connects with everyone. Everyone likes her.”

Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer What’s not to like?

One of the best singles players in the Marmonte League, Anton-Ohlmeyer knows a thing or two about toughness.

She played Little League baseball for seven years, hanging with the boys on scorching 105-degree August days in Columbus, Ga.

Two years after she moved from Georgia, her former teammates won the Little League World Series.

When she played soccer—giving the boys a break— she’d steal the ball in the backfield and charge her way across the pitch for a goal.

In doubles tennis, she’d peg the girl closest to the net.

She’s working on refining that aggression. Honest.

“I’m trying to be a more crafty player,” the 15-year-old said. “I’m trying to build a complete game. One game I’ll work on slicing. One game I’ll work on serve and volley. The next game I’ll try something else. I’m working on the things that can make me better.

“The game’s not just about hitting the ball as hard as you can.”

Anton-Ohlmeyer might not have played for Calabasas if it wasn’t for a Westlake standout.

Warrior sophomore Sivan Krems, the reigning league MVP, encouraged Anton-Ohlmeyer to join Calabasas’ tennis team.

“Sivan said, ‘C’mon! C’mon! I want to play you,’” Anton- Ohlmeyer said. “At first, I was skeptical. But the team is so much fun and so encouraging. In tennis, you get lost. You’re just one of the fish in the sea. It’s tough to have the team part of tennis, but I made the right decision.”

Although the close friends and rivals have comparable skills, Anton-Ohlmeyer has never defeated Krems.

The Coyote came closest during their most recent bout on Oct. 2 at a USTA designated tournament at Cal State Northridge. She lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Krems.

It is the epitome of a friendly rivalry.

“We have so much fun when we play,” Anton-Ohlmeyer said. “We bring out the best in each other.”

The Coyote hasn’t always thrived in the sport.

Anton-Ohlmeyer struggled as a youngster. She said it took years to start winning consistently.

When she started playing at 8, Anton-Ohlmeyer couldn’t serve to save her hide. Her coach at the time offered her 25 cents for each successful serve.

“Twenty-five cents, that’s like $100 to a little kid,” she said. “I ended the lesson with $8.25. I went up to my mom after the lesson asking for it. I racked up a bill.”

Anton-Ohlmeyer, an honors student with a 3.8 grade-point average, also credited coach Novak Nash at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center with her improvement.

Anton-Ohlmeyer’s excelled in other sports, but the challenge of tennis kept her motivated.

“I have a desire for it,” the Coyote said. “I can’t play recreationally. I can’t do it. I have to keep going. I can’t give up—I refuse to. It was challenging when I was younger, but I had to stick with it.

“You have to lose in order to win—then you really appreciate when you win.”

Teammates and coaches have embraced Anton-Ohlmeyer. They’ve given her nicknames like “Tennis Goddess” and “Bumblebee,” for her snazzy outfits.

“We needed her on this team,” said teammate Tal Ginsburg. “Last year on the team, we didn’t have anyone to look up to. . . .

“She is the spirit of our team. She is very dedicated and very supportive of the other players. She’s very spirited, very humble and very sweet.”

Head coach Kim Kinberg said the sophomore has a complete game.

“She’s a well-rounded player,” Kinberg said. “She can hit for power. She can hit with top spin. She can slice. She sets up her points beautifully, and she’s not afraid to come to the net.”

The spirit of athletic competition runs through Anton- Ohlmeyer’s veins.

Her aunt played college basketball. Cousins play college soccer and within the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system.

Her mother, Wendy Ohlmeyer, played on the LPGA circuit, and her stepfather, Drew Ohlmeyer, is an NFLNetwork producer.

Her dad, Tom Anton, played golf on the PGA Tour. Her sister Skyler, 6, also plays tennis, while brother Jett, 4, thinks he’s Iron Man, Anton-Ohlmeyer said with a laugh.

For Anton-Ohlmeyer, tennis is all about hard work. And she’s going to keep working.

“My friends all say, ‘I think you’re crazy.’ I think I am determined,” she said.

“I have very high standards for myself in anything I do. I want to make sure nothing’s easy for me academically or athletically.”

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