There was plenty of excitement on Wednesday morning at the Paseo Club of Valencia, as all six Foothill League girls tennis teams were on hand for the annual prelims.
The tournament featured a handful of familiar faces and also a couple of newcomers who made a statement in their first ever Foothill League prelims.
One of those newcomers is Saugus’ Madie Wiseman, who transferred from Bishop Alemany High School earlier this year.
After sweeping Julie Stone of Canyon in the first round, Wiseman matched up with Mansi Sharma of Hart, who won her first match against Ashley Tonthat of West Ranch.
Wiseman and Sharma battled for over an hour, with the former coming back from a 5-1 deficit in the first set to win 7-6 (4 tiebreak). Wiseman defeated Sharma in the second set 7-6 (6 tiebreak).
Wiseman will face Jordyn McBride of West Ranch in Thursday’s semifinals.
“Coming back was relieving, but I’m going to rest up tonight to be ready for my match tomorrow,” Wiseman said. “Jordyn is the best in our league, but I’m going to stay consistent and hope for the best.”
McBride swept both of her matches, defeating Carly Wilkinson of Hart in the first round and Wiseman’s teammate from Saugus Emily Belcher in the second round.
McBride didn’t lose a set in league play this season, but there is something about the prelims that gets her and the other players more pumped than usual.
“This is only once a year, so I get excited for this because it’s a team tournament,” McBride said. “The aspect of cheering on your team and having people supporting you is fun.”
The other newcomer who made a splash was Maria Cedeno of Valencia. The freshman played well all season for the Vikings, but making the semifinals in the prelims was unexpected, even for her.
“I’m really proud of myself. I’m surprised a little, too, of how far I’ve gone,” Cedeno said. “I’m proud that I have my team behind me supporting me and that’s what has helped me so much. And my parents and coaches support. I’m just really proud.”
Cedeno will take on Justine Dondonay of Golden Valley in the other semifinals match.
Like McBride, Dondonay swept both of her matches on Wednesday, defeating Saugus’ Natalie Ratzlaff in the first round and Hart’s Cameron Schwartz in the second round.
Cedeno knows she has a hefty challenge in front of her going up against Dondonay, but as long as she stays focused and hustles she believes she’ll have a chance.
“I’m going to be consistent. Hold my ground and fight for every point,” Cedeno said. “If I start missing, think about the next point and not let it get to my head.”
On the doubles side of the tournament, West Ranch and Valencia both advanced two teams to the semifinals.
Audrey Kim and Emily Andrews of West Ranch swept Marti Kass and Lauren Hannah of Hart in the first round then defeated Alyssa Alvidrez and Katie Denzin of Saugus 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
Kim and Andrews will face Valencia’s Ashley Villarta and Taylor Cohen in the semifinals.
The Vikings duo split the first two sets against Emily Christensen and Abby Bolks of Saugus in the first round and advanced after winning 10-4 in a super tiebreak. Villarta and Cohen once again faced a super tiebreak in the second round, defeating Angelina Cuiffo and Brooke Johnston of West Ranch 10-5 in the final set.
The second semifinals doubles match will feature two teams consisting of players who usually play singles. Shaira Busnawi and Chase Eisenberg of West Ranch had been playing singles for most of the season, but teamed up earlier this week to form a dynamic duo.
Busnawi and Eisenberg swept their first match against Kirsten Kieu and Carissa Chu of Valencia then defeated Emily Thompson and Shannon Sindle of Hart 6-2, 6-0 in the second round.
“Chase and I work so well together, we’ve worked a lot on communication,” Busnawi said. “The change from singles to doubles, I definitely felt it, but I have a really good partner.”
“I had a little more experience because I played doubles all of last season,” Eisenberg added. “Still, it was a bit of adjustment having to learn how to close at the net again.”
The West Ranch tandem will face Amanda Tabanera and Brenna Whelan of Valencia, who dropped only one game in their two victories.
Tabanera and Whelan defeated Saugus’ Kenna Henderson and Riyana Chhabra 6-0, 6-1, then swept Golden Valley’s Kennedi Williams and Evelyn Kong in the second round.
Similar to Busnawi and Eisenberg, Tabanera and Whelan had been playing singles for most of the year.
“It was fun, we don’t normally play together,” Tabanera said. “It’s different but we wanted to try something new and we work well together.”
“Towards the end of the first match we started getting used to each other more and got on our game,” Whelan said. “So tomorrow should be good. We both help each other out pretty well and set each other up.”
The semifinals begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Paseo Club.
The winners and runners-up from the singles and doubles tournament will advance to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
The Foothill League champions West Ranch along with second-place finisher Valencia and third-place finisher Hart will all play in the Southern California Team Regionals.