The Golden Valley girls tennis team took to the courts Thursday afternoon against Moorpark, winning in decisive fashion, 17-1.
Head coach Josh Stimac used the preleague match and the three previous matches as a barometer to measure where his team is heading into league play, and also as an opportunity to mix and match different doubles pairings.
With the season starting earlier in the school year, the Grizzlies had less time to practice, thus using the preseason contests as a chance to find the right combinations.
“The first couple of matches I wanted to push the girls so we played tougher teams,” Stimac said. “I also want them to get out there and experiment with doubles partners. We’re still trying to figure out some partners.”
Helene Sarpong and Kennedy Williams were named as the No. 1 doubles team on Thursday and looked confident playing alongside one another.
Sarpong was the Grizzlies’ No. 3 singles player last year while Williams was promoted from JV.
“They compliment each other very nicely,” Stimac said about the pair. “I’m trying to work out some of the kinks in their doubles strategy, but they have come along incredibly quickly.”
Justine Dondonay, a transfer from Alhambra High School, was named as the Grizzlies’ No. 1 singles player and definitely played like it. She defeated Moorpark’s No. 1 player in straight sets, fighting back from 40-love in the fifth set to force the deuce, before eventually winning.
“In times when I’m down or not playing my best, I change my game plan,” Dondonay said. “And I always believe I can come back.”
Dondonay, who describes herself as an aggressive player that can change on the fly depending on her opponent’s game styles, is expected to be a dominant force in league this season.
“She hits the ball incredibly cleanly. She’s very serious on the court and she’s just a great competitor,” Stimac said. “I’m looking forward to watching her play. I think she’s going to do great things.”
Dondonay made it to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs last year, losing in the the quarterfinals.
This season, she plans on making it to the playoffs again, while also helping lead her team to a league title.
“I think this year we have strong players,” she said. “My goal is to win league or at least make it to the finals. I think this will be a good year for us.”
Golden Valley begins league play on Tuesday, Sept. 11 in a road match against Hart.