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Well, this ought to open things up a little in the North Bay League girls singles’ tennis hunt.

Marghi Andreassi, the most dominant player in the Empire the past three years, is not competing in her senior season for the Montgomery High Vikings so she can focus on tournaments and the college recruitment process.

“It was a bummer for me,” she said. “Don’t think it wasn’t a tough decision.”

Andreassi, the three-time All-Empire Player of the Year and last year’s Press Democrat Student-Athlete of the Year as a junior, has owned league play for three years, winning the NBL tournament every year.

She didn’t drop a set last season and lost only 10 out of 156 games.

In the North Coast Section tournament, she fell early as a freshman, finished third as a sophomore and, after a rain out forced a reschedule, opted out of competing in her junior year.

Winning an NCS singles title is about the only thing Andreassi leaves on the table after three seasons.

But with an eye toward college, Andreassi said she had to focus more on what her future coaches are looking for.

“It wasn’t a no-brainer, but I didn’t feel like I had that much of a choice,” she said. “It takes up a lot of time in the week when I could be training for tournaments on the weekend. It’s more of a time issue.”

And now is the time to put her game in front of college coaches.

“I’ve been really focused on trying to get recruited for colleges and to be quite frank, the high school level isn’t super appealing to college coaches. It’s more (United States Tennis Association) tournaments,” she said.

“It’s not necessarily that a coach comes to you,” she said. “You have to go to them.”

Andreassi will make an official visit to Pomona College in Claremont soon and Georgetown University remains high on her list.

She will continue to train with her private coaches and travel to tournaments on the weekends.

She’ll also focus on her college applications and making campus visits.

Add to that her desire to maintain her weighted grade point average of 4.8, and something had to give, she said.

“I discussed it with my coach and my parents. Obviously I would like to play. I had fun playing on the team,” she said. “Sometimes I wish I could still play.”

The Vikings were 1-2 heading into Tuesday afternoon’s match with Windsor High, having beaten Casa Grande but falling to Cardinal Newman and Santa Rosa.

Andreassi hasn’t been out to see her teammates play but intends to. She said she owes a certain debt of gratitude to Vikings tennis.

Andreassi chose Montgomery for its International Baccalaureate program, but in transferring over from Rincon Valley Middle School, she knew few people when she walked onto campus as a freshman.

Tennis provided a way in.

“I came into Montgomery and I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “It was a really good way to make friends. It was a big part of who I was, or who I thought I was.”

Andreassi, who lived in Italy until she was 4 and regularly returns to visit extended family, could suddenly mix with upperclassmen teammates and navigate the 1,600-person campus.

And it certainly didn’t hurt that Andreassi dispatched every opponent she faced for three years.

“A lot of people in my school know me as the tennis player,” she said.

And it also gave the tennis veteran a new way of looking at the sport.

Andreassi has played competitive tennis since she was 11 and up until joining the Vikings, it had been mostly an individual endeavor. At the high school level, the team piece is pretty big.

“I think it was a really good decision for me to get involved in a team,” she said. “There is nothing like being on a team.”

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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