A Tiger Tennis family tradition

The Pirelli family of Tiger Tennis excellence, carried on by 17-year old Elena

Photos by Corey Evan
Elena Pirelli shows off her legacy skills in an action shot.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

Some family traditions never grow old, even when they’ve been in place for many generations. For the Pirelli family, playing tennis for San Jacinto High School has been such a tradition. Members of their family have played for the Tiger Varsity Girls Tennis team since the 1980s, a tradition carried on by senior Elena Cantu-Pirelli and her freshman sister Alejandra. The school has grown and so has the competition.
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the girls faced off against the Tahquitz Titans for their Senior Day. Here’s how the Tigers would do:
• Elena Cantu-Pirelli Singles #1 (6,1) (6,0) (6,0).
• Nancy Romo Singles #2 (6,0)(6,1) (6,0).
Crystal Zul Singles #3 (6,0) (2,6) (2,6).
• Frexie Maralit and Natalia Zamora for Doubles #1 (4,6) (6,0) (4,6).
• Gissell Crespo and Ivette Jimenez for Doubles #2 (3,6) (3,6) (6,1).
• Julie Moreno and Sheila Cordon for Doubles #3 (6,2) (6,2) (2,6)

For the Pirelli family, playing tennis for San Jacinto High School has been a tradition.

According to Elena’s father, Armando Cantu, eight Pirelli sisters have led the way on the San Jacinto Girls tennis team, sweeping most league games and leading in CIF playoffs. The sisters are:
• Angie Pirelli 1984
• Gina pirelli 1987
• Sophia Pirelli 1988
• Daniela Pirelli 1989
• Marcela Pirelli 1991
• Carmela Pirelli 1993
• Tina Pirelli 1994
• Donela “Yummy” Pirelli 1995

The Pirelli tennis girls have a total of 32 combined years’ experience according to Armando, all of them in the number one singles seat, and almost all of them recognized as MVP.
Today, Elena and Alejandra are looking to carry on the family legacy. Armando, once a tennis instructor himself, says Elena expressed an interest in the sport from a young age: “Elena once asked me how I became a tennis instructor I told her, I would watch and listen to the instruction of her grandfather showing and teaching her eight aunts for many years, although I never played on a tennis team I remember your grandpa saying ‘You don’t go to school to learn, you go to school to learn how to learn.’ I went on to explain if you give a kid a fish you feed them for a day, if you teach them how to fish you feed them for life….and so it is in the learning of instruction.”
With graduation now eight months out, Armando reflects on how Elena has grown: “If you ask any of Elena’s team mates they will tell you aside from Elena being an outstanding athlete, she is a quiet and very kind person. Elena’s priorities in life are her personal relationship with Christ, the time and love spent with her mom and family, she enjoys spending time at youth, playing tennis, and riding her horse…”

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