This was always a possibility — that West Ranch girls tennis would end Foothill League play on the high of its first Foothill League title since 2011 only to meet the low of a first-round exit in the brutal CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
Marmonte League champion Oaks Christian beat West Ranch, 11-7, on Wednesday at North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks, eliminating the Wildcats only two weeks after they won the outright league title for the second time in school history.
The usually unflappable Wildcats (15-3) lost some mojo entering a daunting playoff field, and it showed Wednesday.
“I don’t know if they actually believed they were just as good as Oaks Christian,” said West Ranch coach Dina McBride.
MORE tennis: Hart falls in wild card round matchup
When McBride took over before the 2014 season, she foresaw the Wildcats sitting atop the Foothill League by year three. She also foresaw a bleak 2016 playoff picture after the Southern Section’s new power-ranking-based postseason system bumped the Cats up from Division 2 to Division 1.
“We did what we set out to do,” McBride said of the season. “Overall, I think we had a great season. The girls learned a lot. They learned that they are real tennis players and competitors. … I’m still a little disappointed (we were in Division 1) when we would have had such a strong team for Division 2.”
The Wildcats lost in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs in 2014 and in the second round last year, making the jump at least a little curious.
“We competed well for what we had,” McBride said of Wednesday’s loss in which West Ranch’s strong singles lineup won just three combined sets.
The Wildcats No. 1 pairing of Cori Raffish and Quinterra Walter-Eze won two sets, both by a 6-0 score.
Despite winning only two other doubles sets, McBride sees a bright future for a team that returns its top four singles and a handful of doubles players.
“I think we have momentum heading into next season,” McBride said. “We’ve been there.”
Santa Margarita Catholic High of Rancho Santa Margarita 10, Valencia 8
Despite a three-set sweep by the No. 1 doubles team of Vasvi Mongia and Ahanti Bommireddipalli, the Vikings (11-9) lost to the Trinity League champions on the road in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
Valencia won a CIF title in 2014 and made the semis last year, both times in Division 2, before making the jump to Division 1 this year.
The Vikings’ No. 3 pairing of Christina Fletcher and Lindsey Gollom won two sets Wednesday, as did No. 1 single Amanda Tabanera, who won the Foothill League individual tournament singles title last week.
“I felt proud of our Viking team for battling with all their heart,” said Valencia coach Annie Kellogg, whose squad finished second in league. “I have an exceptionally brave group of girls who give their best every match.”
With Hart (7-8) having lost in the wild-card round Tuesday, the team portion of tennis season is over for the Santa Clarita Valley.
Tabanera; Raffish and Walter-Eze; West Ranch’s Jordyn McBride; and Brittany Waugh and Dani Hettinger, also of West Ranch, will represent the Foothill League on Nov. 21 in the Southern Section Girls Individual Tennis Tournament.