Dominant, consistent and humble are just some of the words that women’s head coach Chris Ketcham used to describe Orange Coast College female athlete of the year Clarisa Colling.
Colling had a dominant 2016 season going 20-2 overall in singles play and finishing 16-1 in doubles play, all why leading her team to an Orange Empire Conference championship.
“Clarisa is easily one of the best players I’ve coached,” Ketcham said. “I knew I could always count on her to get our team two points every match.”
Along with winning the female athlete of the year, Colling also won the Orange Empire Conference player of the year and the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) freshman player of the year.
“I was surprised when I won all those awards, I never thought I could get that far,” Colling said.
Despite her success for OCC however, Colling said that the recent threatened postseason ban on OCC sports programs has her considering transferring to another community college like Irvine Valley College or Cypress College if the ban isn’t lifted so she can compete in the state tournament.
“I love OCC and don’t want to leave but if I can’t compete in the state tournament than I will have to transfer,” Colling said.
This season Colling went undefeated in conference play and was able to make it all the way to the state title where she lost for the second time this season to Danielle Garrido of San Diego Mesa.
“It was frustrating losing to the same person twice and those being my only losses this season but I’m still happy with my performance this year,” Colling said.
She was also able to make it to the state playoffs in doubles with her partner Karen Trinh where they were upset in the third round by Glendale College’s Veronika Galstyan and Tsukimi Ono. The duo finished their season with an impressive record of 16-1.
Colling was so dominant and beyond her years at only 18 that Ketcham, who is also head coach of the men’s team, would often have her practice with the men’s team. Most of the season she did double duty, practicing with both the men’s and women’s team.
"I needed to challenge her more so I decided to have her practice with the men to improve her skills,” Ketcham said. “I knew that she would be able to handle it.”
Even though she was only a freshman, Colling quickly became one of the vocal leaders on the team, leading not just by her stellar play but also leading by her composure and demeanor on and off the court.
According to Ketcham, even with all her success this season she still carried herself very well and was able to stay humble.
“I was really impressed with the way she carried herself all season,” Ketcham said. “She was a great example for the rest of the team.”
For Colling, tennis is not just her passion but it has also become her life. When she is not on the court for OCC she can be found at Santa Ana’s Matchpoint Tennis Academy where she coaches children on the weekends and works as a receptionist during the week.
In addition to working for Matchpoint she also plays for their club team in the offseason. If she is not playing or coaching tennis she likes to hang out with friends and relax from all the hard work she’s put in for tennis.
“Tennis has a bit of a love/hate relationship for me -- I love to play but sometimes hate the grind of practice and staying focused,” Colling said.
She dreams of one day being able to get a scholarship to a Division 1 school and maybe even taking her career farther.