The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Petra Tonkovich: Meet Girls’ Water Polo’s Only Varsity Freshman

“Firecracker.” “Competitive.” “A bottle of sunshine.” Freshman Petra Tonkovich, a new member of the varsity girls’ water polo team, displays all of these bright characteristics both in and out of the water.

A veteran water polo player, Tonkovich started water polo as an 8-year old after watching her older brothers compete in the sport. However, Tonkovich also dabbled in other sports such as swimming, which has helped her build stamina and speed in the water, according to Tonkovich. 

“I really enjoyed swimming, and water polo used to not be one of my main sports,” Tonkovich said. “But as I got older, I grew to really like the sport more. All my family plays, and I have a lot of friends who play, so my life is very revolved around it.”

Girls’ water polo captain and senior Andi Ruiz has known Tonkovich since the two played on the Northwood Water Polo Club. Tonkovich revives the fun of playing water polo by bringing young energy to the team, according to Ruiz.

“She’s always been such a bright light, she’s really sassy, fun and outgoing, and she never fails to make me laugh,” Ruiz said. “Knowing that this is my last year and that she’s a freshman, it’s really cool just to see how much she’s grown and how strong she’s gotten. I’m really excited to approach this season with her.”

Tonkovich attributes the growth of her water polo journey at Portola High to girls’ water polo coach Veronica Heidke. Heidke’s younger age helps the coach understand the girls and support them in many ways, according to Tonkovich.

“Petra’s a little firecracker,” Heidke said. “She’s a Tonkovich, and the Tonkovich family is water polo through and through. She’s been playing her whole life, which brings a lot to the team.”

Tonkovich’s competitiveness shines during practices and scrimmages where she always encourages her teammates and pushes them to be better, according to Heidke. Heidke sees Tonkovich as a future leader, with other freshmen already looking up to her vivacious personality and presence.

“The unique thing about her is that she doesn’t act like your stereotypical freshman,” Heidke said. “She’s not shy and quiet. She’s been playing with a lot of the girls on the team in club already, so when she interacts with them it’s already like she’s a family member. It didn’t take her any time at all to warm up to the girls.”

While Tonkovich is a freshman, she already has big dreams for her water polo career. She said she hopes to master her passing and shooting skills so she can continue her water polo journey in college.

“I have really learned how this team works,” Tonkovich said. “I think our team is going to do great this season. I will just keep working harder and practicing more to bond with them as we push each other to be the best.”

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About the Contributors
Madeline Chung, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Madeline Chung is the Arts and Entertainment Editor for her second and final year on the Portola Pilot. When she is not complaining about how terrible she is at Physics C concepts, you will find her screaming her heart out at karaoke, grooving to New Jeans, or indulging in her favorite foods: Korean BBQ, hotpot, ramen… you name it (not sushi though—she’s allergic). If she is not harassing Elise Ngo, she will be trying to savor every final moment in the newsroom.. and at Portola High. She is so excited to make her last year count.
Elise Ngo, Features Editor
Elise Ngo is the Features Editor for her second and final year on the Portola Pilot. When not obsessing over Instagram labradoodles or harassing her older sister to buy Cha for Tea popcorn chicken, you can find her having existential crises during hikes in Shady Canyon while listening to her favorite musicals. In the newsroom, if not being mixed up with Maddie, she’s abusing em dashes and asking Tara for headline puns. She’s thrilled for another year with her divine Pilot peers.
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