Swinging by with Saddleback tennis players

Kavelle Tomaiko, left, with tennis teammate Raya Johnson, both about to get ready for their tennis practice. Stephany Rivera | Lariat

Two Saddleback tennis players take their time to talk a little about themselves

At times, athletes are recognized for their wins and triumphs in games but not much about their personal lives. Two of Saddleback College tennis players Kavelle Tomaiko and Raya Johnson took their time before tennis practice to talk a little about their lives inside and outside of the courts.

Kavelle Tomaiko is a freshman in college and is a mass communications major. Tomaiko is ranked number three for singles players and number two for doubles partners for the Saddleback’s tennis team. Tomaiko and her double partner Emily West were seated in the Orange Empire Conference 2022.

Tomaiko got into the school’s tennis team with the help of her coach, Melody Gillinger. It was an easy process for Tomaiko to get in the team since she has a history of playing tennis.

“I’ve been playing ever since I was little with my dad,” Tomaiko said. “Once I got into high school, I started to get more into it.” 

Tomaiko talked about how her father inspired her to play tennis. She said that her father motivates and supports her to play tennis which keeps her motivated as well. 

“I look up to my dad. He always pushes me to play hard and keep going for it,” Tomaiko said. “That kind of motivates me with his words of wisdom.”

Tomaiko did mention something interesting about herself as well. 

“One good thing about me is that I’m a lefty in tennis and it’s kind of an advantage,” Tomaiko said. 

Tomaiko also included saying right when she transfers to a university she will continue playing tennis. She wants to continue playing because she enjoys the sport she has been playing ever since she was little.

Raya Johnson is the other tennis player on the school’s team. She is a sophomore in college and is a political science major. Johnson is ranked number one among the singles players and number one for the doubles team with her partner Vanessa Gee for the Saddleback team.

“I’ve been playing tennis for about 13 to 14 years,” Johnson said. After graduating high school, she has been going through a recovery process from her knee surgery. When her knee started to recover she decided to play tennis for the Saddleback team in her freshman year. 

Before, Johnson used to be in competitive dancing and stopped around the age of 15. She couldn’t continue because of her knee injury and that is when she switched to playing tennis.

Johnson is thinking of continuing to play tennis when she transfers to a university. She is looking into some schools that have division one schools to transfer into.

Just like Tomaiko, Johnson also looks up to her father. Her father is a tennis coach and she looks up to her father to do better and make him feel proud. 

“I also look up to Maria Sharpova,” Johnson said. “She is like a big influence for me tennis wise because she is famous at that sport.”

Johnson in her free time enjoys spending time with her family and friends, mostly outdoors. She likes to do activities that make her active.

 “I like going hiking.” Johnson said. “I’m really big on going sports and being outside. A lot of time, our family will be playing and tossing around with footballs.” 

Johnson has won the Conference Singles Player of the Year and Conference Double Team of the Year with her partner. Johnson has a chance of playing for the Women’s Pro tour in a few qualifying events this summer.

Both athletes are very inspired and motivated to continue the sport they love. Best of luck to these two athletes.