Freshman Sets the Pace for Girls’ Tennis Team


Photo Courtesy of Bella Chhiv

Freshman Bella Chhiv competes in tournaments regularly, such as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Springteam Championship hosted in Mobile, Alabama; additionally, she is currently ranked 11th in California, according to the Babolat recruiting list on the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Annie Qiao, A&E Editor

As freshman Bella Chhiv begins to recount tales of the places and people she has met through her years in tennis, her teammates intermittently stop by, shouting words of encouragement and whimsical inside jokes that cause her to erupt in laughter. The girl I see now is bubbly and social, a sharp contrast from the confident, serious and graceful player I saw on the court earlier.

Growing up in a tennis-obsessed family and always watching professional players on the television, Chhiv began playing at a young age. However, she did not learn to take tennis seriously until the age of nine, when she began loving the sport. She said she credits a lot of her inspiration to her parents and younger siblings.

“I mean I always love the competitiveness of [tennis], and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of national players and people out of the country. It’s given me a lot of opportunities, so that’s why I still continue to play it,” Chhiv said. “My dad came from a poorer family, so he didn’t really have the opportunity to pursue tennis because of those financial reasons. He’s always been a really hard worker, and he really inspires me to keep playing it.”

Chhiv practices three hours a day anywhere from five-to-seven days a week. She also attends three or four tournaments around the nation every month, meaning that her weekends are almost always booked.

Her practice paid off this season in particular, where she won nearly every match and placed first out of all singles players in the Pacific Coast League after league finals.

As the Pacific Coast League champion, Chhiv will begin playing in individual CIF rounds starting Nov. 25.

In the future, Chhiv said she hopes to continue playing at the collegiate level and even professionally. While she still has a few years to go, she has been looking at Division 1 schools in California like University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford.

Throughout her career in tennis, Chhiv has had ups and downs, such as not having her results reflect her hours of practice. To bounce back from those challenges, Chhiv said she tries to remember why she loves tennis to begin with.

“There’d be a couple of times where I’d be losing early rounds in tournaments and when I just have been training every single day and as much work as I can and still not be getting the results that I’ve been wanting to get,” Chhiv said. “It’s really tough because you’re not allowed to get on-court coaching when you play tennis, so you just have to trust in the work that you’ve put in.”

Chhiv said she has cherished being able to connect with players from all over the nation at tournaments. In addition to regularly catching up through calls, whenever she meets her friends and competitors at tournaments, she makes sure to have dinner together.

At school, Chhiv has been able to embrace the unique camaraderie that a high school team provides, a sharp contrast from the occasional loneliness she faces as an individual player. From team dinners to singing (a little poorly, but that’s what makes it so fun, according to Chhiv) on the bus after becoming CIF Division 3 champions, she has been welcomed to a new home on the girls’ tennis team.

“I’ve learned that you have to find happiness and love for the sport you pursue. As competitive players, we often forget to have fun when we’re out there and to enjoy ourselves because we’re so focused on the end result,” Chhiv said. “It’s crazy to think that it’s only been less than a year for me at Portola, and we’ve already won CIF. It makes me think how much more we will be able to accomplish in the following years.”