West Ranch High girls tennis learned Monday it would be playing Marmonte League champion Oaks Christian on the road Wednesday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The revelation of a matchup with the division’s eighth-ranked team right off the bat was hardly news.
West Ranch knew before this season — in which it went 10-0 for its first Foothill League title since 2011 — that it had been moved up from Division 2 to Division 1 under the Southern Section’s new power-ranking-based playoff system.
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The Wildcats also knew just how tough Division 1 was, so they came to grips with the brutal postseason road that lay before them.
That’s not to say, however, that they can’t hold their own.
“If we are not overwhelmed and stick to the game plan of what we’ve done all season, I think we’ll be fine,” said West Ranch coach Dina McBride.
There is reason for optimism.
Oaks Christian beat Valencia 12-6 earlier this season. The Wildcats beat Valencia twice, by a 13-5 score each time.
“They have to keep believing we’re a good team,” said McBride, whose squad lost in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs in 2014 and in the second round last year. “If everyone does their part, we should be fine.”
Valencia also jumped up to Division 1 this year under the CIF’s power rankings — based on regular season record, strength of schedule and performance in the playoffs.
The Vikings, who won a CIF-SS D2 title in 2014 and made the semis in 2015, will play on the road Wednesday against Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, champion of the Trinity League.
Valencia finished second in the Foothill League at 8-2.
The Foothill’s third-place team, Hart, plays a Division 2 wild-card match Tuesday at the Coastal Canyon League’s third-place team, Oak Park. A win would place the Indians in a first-round match with Tri-Valley League-champion Cate of Carpinteria on Wednesday.
Last season, Hart beat Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana, 13-5, in a Division 2 wild-card match before falling to Sage Hill of Newport Beach, 15-3, in the first round.