Beckman tennis ace Ashley Teng has followed the lead of her older brother, Ryan, to some of her most rewarding adventures.
She was struggling in soccer when she decided at about age 9 to try her brother’s sport of tennis. She hasn’t put her racket down since.
And she knew Ryan’s success starting a tennis academy for special needs players when she joined Beckman’s buddies club for students with autism. It’s now her favorite club at school.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Teng said with a laugh of Ryan, 20, who attends UCLA. “I love him. We barely fight.”
Teng hopes to follow her brother’s footsteps one more time this fall by helping Beckman’s girls tennis program experience the postseason for the first time in her four-year career.
Beckman is ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 2 but resides in arguably the toughest tennis league in Orange County, the Pacific Coast League.
“This is the SEC of high school tennis,” said Beckman coach Nick Friendt, an avid college football fan. “Alabama is University and CdM.”
Beckman also was ranked No. 1 in Division 2 last season but as the fourth-place finisher in the Pacific Coast, missed the playoffs as at-large entry. The playoff bracket was full with automatic qualifiers.
Teng hopes to change the Patriots’ course this fall. She and fellow co-captain Emily Lu lead a solid and close-knit squad, which beat Mater Dei, 12-6, on Tuesday to improve to 3-0.
Teng earned first-team All-County honors last season by finishing 53-4 in singles. The 5-foot-3 senior is a crafty baseline player who entered this season with a 141-28 career record in singles for Beckman.
She ranks second to Megan Heneghan (226) in school history in singles victories.
Lu and Gnamitha Naganathanahalli could be a doubles team to watch. The Patriots also return junior Kayla Cruz, sophomore Christelle Haj and added freshman standout Kenzington Mann to their lineup.
“It’s a tough league,” Teng said. “This year, I’m hoping I can make it to CIF, either team CIF or just individual CIF … Both would be great because I haven’t made it.”
Teng’s brother helped build Beckman’s boys program. The Patriots climbed the county rankings and reached the CIF Division 1 semifinals in 2015.
But just like her brother, Teng isn’t only defined by tennis.
She enjoys her involvement with the small school club, BAYA or Beckman Autism Youth Ambassadors.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Teng, who joined the club as a freshman and serves as a peer mentor. “They’re so loving. They have no bad bone.”
Teng said she learned the joy of helping others through her brother, who founded No Limitz Tennis. The academy helped special needs students play tennis on Sundays.
College also is on Teng’s mind. The straight-A student maintains a 4.73 grade-point average and is considering a wide-range of schools: Navy, MIT, Washington University in Missouri, Chicago, Williams in Massachusetts, UC Irvine and Emory.
Born of Taiwanese parents, Ju-Hsien and Bini, Teng aspires to be a doctor, perhaps even a surgeon.
“It would be so amazing just to help so many people,” she said.
For now, Teng’s focus remains on helping her Beckman community, on and off the court.
“Unbelievable girl,” Friendt said. “She’s a stud. She’s the real deal. (Her) brother, too.”