Rising Stars (Spring 2014 Part 2)

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Author: Michael Tonetti

photos by Ximena Santiago
photos by Ximena Santiago

Avery Chernin (Men’s Tennis)

Despite being the lightest member of the team at 138 pounds, Avery Chernin is expected to make a heavy impact on the Occidental men’s tennis program. The Santa Barbara High School graduate has a history of success at the competitive level. He played varsity tennis all four years in high school, capped off by a senior season in which he went 51-15. For the Tigers, Chernin plays both No. 3 singles and No. 3 doubles, speaking to how highly head coach Brian Newhall regards the first-year. “Avery is well-liked by his teammates and the coaching staff,” Newhall said. “He is headed for an excellent four-year career.” While still searching for his first collegiate win, Chernin has already made strides, noticing improvement in his abilities. “College tennis is definitely a different game,” Chernin said. “It has taken a little bit of adjustment, but I think in the end, it has only made me a better player.”

Star2_Ximena Santiago

Carly Zurcher (Women’s Water Polo No. 11)

After being nudged in Occidental’s direction by her high school water polo coach, a Tiger water polo alumnus himself, Carly Zurcher had yet another reason to attend the college. Because of her coach’s urging, in addition to the weather, academics and high level of competition in the SCIAC conference, Zurcher said her decision to attend Occidental was fairly straightforward. Despite her tendency to concuss teammates, which she did three times in high school, head coach Larry Zubrin believes Zurcher — the first left-handed athlete on the Tigers’ roster since 2011 — will leave her legacy on the program through her technical ability. “Being a left-handed player, something we haven’t had on the team for the past couple seasons, she adds another element to our offense, which makes her very valuable,” Zubrin said.

Star3_Ximena Santiago

Nicholas Descamps (Men’s Golf)

Though he has been playing golf since age nine, Nicholas Descamps did not come to focus on the sport full-time until he was cut from the varsity baseball team midway through high school. Trading in his baseball bat for a golf club, he quickly realized that he had a knack and passion for the sport. Although Descamps is still working out some kinks in his game, men’s golf coach Andrew Larkin ‘12 feels confident the Missoula, Mont., native will be a valuable asset to the program. “Nick is newer to high-level tournament golf, but he has a huge upside in the game and has already shown good progress,” Larkin said. “I am excited to see how Nick will grow during his four years at Oxy.” Descamps is optimistic about his future, as well. “I love where my swing’s at; it’s just about putting it all together,” he said.

Kara Alam /photo courtesy of Oxy Athletics
Kara Alam /photo courtesy of Oxy Athletics

Kara Alam (Women’s Golf)

Golf is far from the most popular sport in Kara Alam’s home country of Pakistan. Even so, she provides the Occidental women’s golf team with another international student — the team has two others — who has a feel for the links. But according to Tiger coach Andrew Larkin ‘12, that is not all the 6-foot-2 Lahore native brings to the table. “Kara is a big addition to the team and, with a good season, could help the program compete for a conference title,” Larkin said. In addition to golf, Alam tried her hand at basketball this winter, suiting up for the women’s varsity squad. Now that the seasons have changed, however, she returns to the more familiar golf course. As the only first-year member on the women’s team this season, she has already seen positive results. She traveled with the squad to the SCIAC Preview on Feb. 10, posting a score of 96 to help guide the Tiger women to a second-place finish at the event.

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