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KEVIN SULLIVAN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Villa Park's Constance Branstine is the Register's girls tennis player of the year.

Girls tennis player of the year: Constance Branstine, Villa Park

STAFF WRITER

By nature, the Branstine family is an athletically gifted bunch.

Cassidy – the eldest of the three Branstine girls – plays tennis for UC Irvine, while Carson – the youngest – is ranked as the top freshman in the state, and the No. 4 prospect nationally for the class of 2019.

There’s also cousin Freddie who starts at first base for the Atlanta Braves. His last name’s Freeman, but you get the idea.

Talented family.

Villa Park’s Constance Branstine is making quite a name for herself too. The senior concluded her final high school campaign as one of the top-four finishers at CIF-SS Individuals, helped the team capture its second straight Crestview League title, and possibly most important of all, established Villa Park as one of the county’s elite programs.

After tallying a 45-2 overall record, Branstine has been selected the Register’s girls tennis player of the year.

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2015 All-County girls tennis:

Girls tennis coach of the year: Rey Lejano, Yorba Linda

All-County girls tennis: First team

All-County girls tennis: Second, third teams

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“I really wanted to represent a school like Villa Park because I just love the team aspect of high school tennis, and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way,” explained Branstine, a second generation Spartan. “Going to CIF was some good motivation – playing team and individual – it’s been really special. And both my parents went to Villa Park. So for them to be able to come out and watch with my grandparents, uncles, and cousins too, it’s all been so great.”

That appreciation for family came earlier for Branstine than most, mainly because she has spent a fair amount of time competing in national tournaments throughout the country, where her tight-knit fan base can’t necessarily follow.

She has thrived regardless, currently holding a top-30 national ranking in girls 18’s, earning the No. 6 mark among Southern Californians in that age group.

“You have players like that at the forefront and it really helps the rest of the team because now they have somebody to look up to, and they try to achieve the level of play,” Villa Park coach Chris Tibbetts said of Branstine. “Every coach should be blessed to have someone like that be part of team, where the others can come to matches, see that and go, ‘Woah!’ as a type of inspiration.”

Tibbetts has had two such players in recent memory. Villa Park graduated Rachel Kim last year and will see Branstine head off to Texas A&M – a top-10 womens tennis program – where she recently received a scholarship and signed her national letter of intent.

In Branstine’s two years on campus, Villa Park accumulated a 32-3 record, with its lone losses coming against University, Valencia and Peninsula.

“Hopefully it keeps carrying on,” Branstine said of Villa Park’s success. “Solymar Colling is still there, and she’s a very good player. But we’re real deep in singles and doubles so I hope our successful two years keeps living on.

“Even with me leaving, I’ve been apart of a team that’s gotten it done. It all comes as a team adding up the score, not just me.”

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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