2009-10-22 / Sports

Krems of the crop

Westlake’s Sivan Krems may be the most talented tennis player in the Marmonte League—and she’s only a freshman
By Eliav Appelbaum eliav@theacorn.com

RISING STAR—During Monday’s victory against Moorpark High, Westlake 14-year-old freshman Sivan Krems improved her season record to 39-0. Krems’ brother, Mitch, also plays tennis at WHS. RISING STAR—During Monday’s victory against Moorpark High, Westlake 14-year-old freshman Sivan Krems improved her season record to 39-0. Krems’ brother, Mitch, also plays tennis at WHS. Sivan Krems smashes a twohanded forehand with the force of an Olympic discus thrower.

Thwack!

She leaps to the front of the net for a cross-court volley, with the dexterity of a boxer’s jab.

Vroom!

She serves up ace after ace, her opponents unable to catch up with her collection of shots, moves and counterattacks.

Game. Set. Match.

Krems is the best girls’ tennis player in the Marmonte League.

And she’s only a freshman.

She might be one of the smallest Warriors. Krems is so slight of frame, one shouldn’t be shocked if 99 red balloons whisked her into the sky.

“She’s just very determined when she’s out there,” said Westlake coach Connie Flanderka. “She’s out there to win.”

Krems improved to 39-0 after picking up three more wins against Moorpark on Monday.

The 14-year-old disposes of her opponents with the efficiency of Tom Brady dissecting an opponent’s secondary.

Her tennis game is like a Hemingway sentence: It’s quick, calculating and to the point.

“She’s thinking the whole time she’s out there, ‘How can I win this point?’” Flanderka said.

“She’s just very focused. She assesses during her warm-up how her opponent plays. She does a good job of that.”

Krems, who has been playing tennis since she was 6 and competing since she was 11, is a fine tournament player. She is ranked seventh by the United States Tennis Association Southern California’s points standings list for players 16-and-under.

Playing in a team atmosphere has been a pleasant change of pace for the freshman phenom.

“They cheer me on, I cheer them on,” Krems said. “It’s a bit new to me, but I’m liking it. Tennis is an individual sport, but it’s nice being with a team and having camaraderie.”

Flanderka, who has coached for all 32 seasons Westlake has had girls’ tennis, said Krems gets along well with her fellow Warriors.

“She interacts well with her teammates,” the coach said. “She cheers on the JV and varsity players. She’s always good about supporting the other players.”

Teammates marvel at Krems’ undeniable talent, but also her support of others.

“She’s one of the nicest girls I’ve ever met,” said Westlake sophomore Annie Sundling. “She’s energetic, and she’s always cheering people on. And she’s very modest about how good she is.

“She’s got a good mental game. She doesn’t get mad; she just keeps going. She’s a wellrounded player.”

Krems and the Warriors face Thousand Oaks today in a crucial Marmonte road match that could eventually decide who wrests the league title from Calabasas.

The Coyotes have won a league title every year since joining the Marmonte in 2002, but injuries and other schools’ talent caught up with CHS this season.

It’s only fitting that Krems’ arrival at Westlake, which last won a league crown in 2001, signals a symbolic and literal changing of the guard.

At this point, Westlake, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley are in contention for first place. Moorpark was in first place last week, but its strongest player, Kristina Eisenbrand, left for a tennis academy in Spain. She’s expected to return by Thanksgiving, after the season ends.

Krems hopes the Warriors will continue their ascent.

Westlake (11-2 overall, 7-1 in the Marmonte entering Tuesday) defeated the Lancers earlier this season, but Krems said she must be ready for Thousand Oaks’ singles players, including Tara Erb and Alison Ho.

“Tennis requires both mental and physical strength,” Krems said. “It’s like all sports, though; what you put in, you’ll get results. It’s up to me to get results. It’s on my shoulders.”

Her closest match this year was a 6-4 win against Chaminade’s Jessica Parizher.

“She was a formidable opponent,” Krems said.

Krems holds the racket with an unorthodox grip, the two-handed forehand. Most players return forehand shots with their dominant hand on the racket.

The Warrior always uses two hands except for volleys and serves. The two-handed forehand helps her with control and to generate power.

Krems said her key to success is placing the ball all over the court, forcing her opponents to work hard and run for every point.

She has strong ground strokes but said she would like to improve her serve and volleys.

Krems’ brother, Mitch, is a sophomore for the Westlake boys’ tennis team. Her brother reached the Marmonte League Championship finals in doubles during the spring.

Krems enjoys spending time with her family, including parents Michael and Dikla, and her black Labrador, Allie.

Flanderka said Krems, who admitted she would like to play professionally, has the talent, work ethic and drive to be the best tennis player in the school’s history.

“She has tremendous potential,” the coach said. “I see a lot of good things happening for her. . . . She’s been one of the best, if not the best, at her age.”

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