Righetti’s Annette Sousa returns the ball as the Warriors took on Orcutt Academy at Hancock College on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Although The Warriors lost 10-8, Sousa swept her three sets as she continues to provide strong leadership to her Righetti team.

Match after match, year after year, senior Annette Sousa has piled up points for Righetti’s girls tennis team.

She has been the squad’s No. 1 singles player since she began her high school career her freshman year.

During that time players such as Abigail Will of San Luis Obispo and, currently, Sophie Whittle and Lauren Hayashi of Arroyo Grande have dominated at the top of singles league play, so Sousa hasn’t quite broken into the PAC 7 top two to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Individual Playoffs.

What she HAS done is roll up enough points to help the Warriors qualify for the sectional team playoffs her sophomore and junior seasons. Her league singles record has been well above .500 each of her first three season.

And she has qualified for the sectional individual tourney once — in doubles her freshman year, “With my friend, Laura Wong,” Sousa said.

Yes, she’s done a lot of good work at Righetti but Sousa is ready to move on.

She’s not set on a college yet but, “I ... want to go to Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks really bad,” Sousa said at a recent match.

“I haven’t applied there yet. I’m getting close,” to getting all the paperwork in order that’s necessary to apply.

“I hope to play tennis there.”

Some high school seniors have mixed emotions about graduating and going away to school. Sousa is not one of them.

“I actually wanted out of here last year, so I’m ready to go,” she said. “I’ll miss my friends, but they’ll all be leaving for school, too, so they can’t be staying here.”

New Righetti coach Rob Barber is in his first year of working Sousa, but he’s seen enough of her to wintess her talent and drive.

“She loves to play, she wants to win and she’ll get out there and work twice as hard to do that, yeah,” said Barber.

“Annette takes instruction very well. Absolutely, with her game the way it is and the way she can improve it with the right direction, I think she can succeed at the next level.” 

Righetti will try to rebound after dropping a tight 10-8 PAC 7 League match to cross-street rival St. Joseph last week. The Warriors, 3-4 overall, are 1-2 in league matches. However, Sousa is 6-2 in league matches this season. 

She said that playing varsity tennis as a freshman didn’t faze her.

“I’d played with older kids for years,” before she got to high school, Sousa said.

Sousa has worked diligently during each off-season to raise her game.

“I’ve played a lot of tournaments during the summer,” she said. “I’ve played some in Avila, some in (San Luis Obispo), some down south.

“My overall game’s gotten a lot stronger,” since her freshman year began, said Sousa. “I’ve gotten more consistent.”

Sousa’s signature stroke is the forehand which she consistently wallops from the backcourt for points.

The senior’s sunny demeanor endears her to teammates and opponents alike. Sousa and Orcutt Academy senior Sarai Aguirre played a spirited set in a non-league match at Hancock College last week. Sousa, with a late run, finally won 6-3. The two hugged at the net afterward.

The Spartans won the match 10-8, but Sousa swept her three sets.

If the Warriors make the post-season again, Sousa, once again, figures to have a lot to do with Righetti’s success. 

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