GAME BALL: Senior manages playing boys tennis, volleyball in same season


Rebekah Kim

Senior Owen Taylor swings at the ball during practice on Monday, March 13, on the Sunny Hills tennis court.

By Grace Min, Sunny Hills High School

Two years ago, senior Owen Taylor decided to add a new dimension to his tennis game – volleyball.

Having played on the varsity boys tennis squad since his freshman year, Taylor tried out for the boys volleyball team and made the cut to join the junior varsity squad.

Once he made the varsity team his junior year, Taylor would sometimes juggle tennis and volleyball matches on the same day. After playing two of the three sets in his tennis match, he would bid good luck to his teammates, and rush off the court, while switching jerseys to start a best of five-set volleyball match in the gym.

As a now four-year tennis varsity starter and two-year volleyball player, the senior has not only adapted to this life as a dual-spring-sport athlete, but he found much success in both sports.

“Last year, it was very stressful for me, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better at managing two sports now,” Taylor said about his junior season. “I’ve found a way to use [both sports] as a way to clear my head instead of thinking of it as another thing I have to do.”

In his last two years of playing two spring sports, Taylor won two consecutive Freeway League titles with his doubles partner, junior Nevin McCann, and was the 2021-2022 CIF-SS Division 5 champion alongside his volleyball team. As of Friday, May 19, he and McCann are still in contention for a CIF doubles title.

Though Taylor sometimes has to choose between sports on game days, he said he practices with both teams on non-competitive days since tennis practice is held during sixth period and volleyball practice starts after school at 4 p.m.

“I’m enjoying [playing both sports] a lot more in my senior year because I don’t have the stress of college applications hanging over my head,” he said. “Since college applications are over, I’m just having a lot of fun both during practices and during games with my teammates.”

Taylor first met his doubles partner at the 2020-2021 freshman orientation when McCann was an incoming freshman. The pair clicked as soon as they met since they shared a common passion for tennis, McCann said.

“I feel like our communication [has grown] very strong,” the junior said. “Off the court, we always text each other when we can get in a quick training session. … We talk almost every day, whether it’s about tennis or something completely different.”


The senior picked up his first tennis racket when he was 5 years old, following the footsteps of a few of his family members who also played the sport. By the time he turned 10, he was playing in tournaments and training with private coaches.

“I’ve been playing tennis for much longer [than volleyball], so I have more experience to work off of,” Taylor said. “I’m pretty confident whenever I play a tennis match that I’ll win it or that I’ll at least be playing well.”

As a freshman, Taylor played singles under boys tennis head coach Christopher Ghareebo, and even though his season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he ended it undefeated.

“[Owen and I] talk all the time; that is the key,” Ghareebo said. “We have built an incredible relationship over the past four years where I support everything he does. I even go root for him at his volleyball games whenever I can to show him that I’m 100% invested in him.”


Compared to his 12 years of experience in tennis, the senior first took up competitive volleyball when he made the junior varsity team as a sophomore. Since then, he has earned a starting spot on the varsity squad, thanks to the help of boys volleyball head coach Albert Soliguen.

“As an athlete, Owen is very intelligent, athletic and coachable,” Soliguen said. “The way he manages both sports, student responsibilities and anything else outside of school is quite an amazing feature.”

Taylor picked up a volleyball alongside his sister, junior Kayla Taylor, who serves as the girls varsity volleyball captain.

His experience in two athletic programs taught Owen Taylor the importance of time management and communication, especially in his junior year when he took five Advanced Placement classes ranging from English Language to Physics 1.

“Last year, I got very good at using my free time effectively and not wasting it,” said the senior, who’s taking five AP classes again this school year. “Because I’ve been forced to learn how to divide my time and make the most of it, it helped me set deadlines and meet goals for myself.”

Owen Taylor said he established a system in which he could play his tennis and volleyball matches if they were both held at Sunny Hills. If not, he plays the sport that has away games or whenever the Lancers play a rival like Troy.

“I like to try splitting my time between the sports,” the senior said. “If I’m staying for a whole tennis match while missing an entire volleyball match, I try to play an entire volleyball match and miss a tennis match after to make up for it.”


To top it all off, Owen Taylor serves as a co-captain for the tennis team.

“He is my captain even though he misses games at times for volleyball because he has earned it,” Ghareebo said. “He has helped be a pillar of this program by helping us make deep CIF runs, winning back-to-back undefeated league titles and helping us go from Division 3 to Division 1 this year. Without him, none of this is possible.”

Though the co-captain said he feels guilty for missing volleyball and tennis matches, Owen Taylor said his coaches are understanding of his commitment to both sports.

This year, the senior helped his volleyball team secure another Freeway League title, while the tennis squad came in second behind Troy. Regardless of the seasons’ outcomes, he hopes to leave a lasting legacy in both programs.

While his volleyball season has ended with a first-round CIF playoff loss,  Owen Taylor and his doubles partner will advance to the next round of CIF doubles competition with their next match scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, in the Biszantz Family Tennis Center at Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles County.

And so whenever that journey ends, the tennis and volleyball athlete said he hopes his contributions to both squads will have a long-lasting impact.

“I’d love to be remembered as the person who brought kids into the program,” Owen Taylor said. “I’m working on being more inviting [in both programs], and even if I don’t know some of the [new] kids, I want to get to know them and help them if they’re struggling.”

This story was originally published on The Accolade on May 19, 2023.