Kava Taufa is a San Rafael Tennis Legend


Izzy Allen, Contributor

It was the ten-point tiebreaker. Eight-Eight. She needs to win by two, she loses the point. Eight-Nine. She walks over to her coach and they say a prayer on the sideline. She wins the next point, 9-9. Then with her final hit of the ball, the racket flew out of her opponent’s hand and she won the match that took her to nationals, 11-9.

Kava started playing tennis at the age of nine because her mother decided to put her and her younger brother in lessons. Little did Kava’s mother know that she would be able to achieve a very high level of play and go on to play for her country.

Kava’s family is originally from Tonga on her father’s side and they used to live there when she was younger. Since Kava’s family is from Tonga, Kava was able to play for Tonga’s national 16 and under tennis team. Kava had to take on many different players to qualify and take 7th overall in the competition.

Before Kava even got to the national tournament she had to qualify to be on the national team. She trained for a month straight, doing things that would push her to her limits and make the national team. “It was hard, but it was worth it,” said Kava.

At first, Kava had to go to qualifiers which were in Samoa. Where she played hard and beat everyone from the other surrounding countries and qualified to go to nationals in Fiji. To get to nationals they pick 4 girls from each division to go and play. Kava was in the 16 and under division the first time she placed to go to nationals.

“The experience was amazing. Fiji was beautiful, met all different types of people, heard all the different languages. It was so nice, I really enjoyed it.”

Then after she came back home to San Rafael, the Tongan tennis team asked her to come back for another tournament. Qualifying this time at the qualifying tournament in New Zealand which then lead her to her second year at the Fiji Nationals Tournament.

Kava transferred to San Rafael High in her freshman year. She didn’t know many people at San Rafael so joining the tennis team really helped her find place and her friends. “She was always motivating and supportive to all her teammates and always had a positive attitude,” said her teammate Athena Yetnikoff who is also a senior at San Rafael High School and played tennis with Kava for the past 3 years.

Kava has always been very into tennis and when she started to play against the different schools in Marin County she found herself being one of the few players of color and noticed that some of them were very rude and disrespectful towards her for not just being a great tennis player. So Kava sensed that because she came from Tonga and a different socioeconomic status that she didn’t fit the profile of a typical Marin tennis player but,“It made me stronger, and become the tennis player I am today.”

Tennis has taught Kava so much and helps her see what people’s true colors are. “It’s a sport in high school where you ref yourself so it can show who is honest and has integrity.” Kava has faced cheating but sometimes it’s something she has to let slide because it’s the way people are and she knows that she can rise above them a still beat them even when they cheat.

“All your achievements will shine for you, no need to brag about anything,” said Kava. Throughout her seasons at SRHS Kava has received an award from her team for being MVP and the most inspirational. From the MCAL tennis association Kava was on second team her freshman year for singles and her sophomore, junior, and senior years she was on first team for singles.

Kava is so humble and works hard for everything. She truly represents what Bulldogs stand for:

“Grateful for everything and entitled to nothing.”