Capuchino, Terra Nova tennis teams raise awareness for breast cancer 

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On Oct. 8, the Capuchino girls’ tennis team will be taking on Terra Nova in the first Peninsula Athletic League match of the season.

However, when the Mustangs and Tigers get together, it’ll be much more than a match.

For the second consecutive year, Capuchino will be hosting Breast Cancer Awareness Day, a day that really touches the core of many involved in the event, including Capuchino coach Richard De Leon.

De Leon has been coaching the Mustangs for five years now, and the idea of hosting such an event came from an assistant coach Audrey Carniero.

It made sense for De Leon as his own mother, Luz, was stricken with breast cancer. Luz De Leon, 82, survived breast cancer before passing away last year. She worked with cancer patients for more than 30 years at Davies Medical Center in San Francisco.

“It’s bigger than tennis,” De Leon said. “The more we do this event, the more we can help spread the word about [breast cancer].”

This season, De Leon and his staff decide to bring in guests to not only help spread the word, but to honor those who are battling breast cancer.

Cancer survivors from Capuchino and Terra Nova will be present, including Tigers coach Andy Lee.

“To do it on the day we’re doing it, knowing that [Lee], even though he beat cancer and not breast cancer, is just another reason why we’re proud to have Terra Nova involved in the event,” De Leon said.

Expected guests for the event includes state Sen. Leland Yee, San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane, the American Cancer Society, Seton Medical Center, the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Kaiser Permanente Hospital and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Also expected to attend is Silvia Duenas-Bielser, the diversity and multicultural outreach representative from the United States Tennis Association.

“We just called and called people, and I think they figured out how big this was, and what it would mean to cancer survivors involved with Terra Nova and [Capuchino].”

Capuchino has struggled this season, but De Leon is a firm believer that it is more than about the sport itself. He’s preaching the importance of life and moving on to a four-year university.

“This is a rebuilding year for us, but we tell the girls to just make this a positive experience,” De Leon said. “The odds of going pro are so long, so we just tell the girls to have fun.”

Capuchino plans to do what it did last season, which is decorate its tennis courts with pink balloons, pamphlets of information about breast cancer, as well as using pink tennis balls.

“At the end of the day, we just want to make people aware of breast cancer and the resources to beat it,” De Leon. “You never know when it can affect a family, a friend or whoever. The more we do it, the more people are aware of it.”

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