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Lee Signs At Vandy

A COMMODORE: San Marino High School senior Anessa Lee, second from left, signed her ceremonial letter of intent to play tennis at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday. PICTURED ABOVE, left to right, are Anessa’s mother Pearl Lee, Anessa, her father Albert Lee and Melwin Pereira, her tennis coach at San Marino High School. Mitch Lehman Photo

San Marino High School tennis Coach Melwin Pereira remembers the moment like it was the proverbial “yesterday.”

“She was ten years old and I was just hitting balls over the net, one over here and then another over there,” Pereira said on Wednesday afternoon, pantomiming the back-and-forth method he uses with younger pupils. “Then I hit one a little but farther away and she dove for the ball. Dove for the ball, not fell down reaching for the ball. She dove for it. I asked her ‘what are you doing? She said ‘returning the shot.’ I knew right then that she was a special talent.’”

Pereira was referring to Anessa Lee, a senior at San Marino High School, who—eight years later—signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday to continue her stellar tennis career at Vanderbilt University, where she will receive a full scholarship to play for the Commodores.

Anessa is currently ranked #11 in the nation in the Girls Under 18 age group as determined by tennis recruiting.net, won the prestigious Easter Bowl singles championship in 2016, was a doubles finalist in the Girls 16 age group at the United States Tennis Associations’ Winter Nationals and made it to the finals of the 2018 United States Indoor Championships.

Last week, she won her third Rio Hondo League singles championships in her three tries and defeated all three of her opponents in the Lady Titans’ CIF Open Division first round playoff contest against Peninsula, wrapping up her career at SMHS without a single loss during team play. Pereira stood just a few feet away from Anessa and her parents, Pearl and Albert Lee, in the quad at San Marino High School as Anessa was honored at Signing Day.

“What I hope everyone knows is how much hard work has gone into this,” Pereira said as he pointed to Anessa, surrounded by her adoring fans. “This is the result of hard, hard work and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand this sport. She has sacrificed so much for this moment.”

Sweat, tears…and a little blood.

“She gets up and she has blood running down her chin and on her knee,” Pereira said, finishing the earlier story. “I thought ‘she is crazy. Nobody that age dives for a ball during practice! But that’s Anessa.”

Special, clearly not crazy.

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