Minutes before Hart girls tennis began its CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoff match against Louisville of Woodland Hills, Indians coach Allan Hardbarger was doing some last-minute strategizing.
As he analyzed the Royals’ lineup, he realized he had to make a change. He paired Cameron Schwartz, who usually plays singles, with Marti Kass for a doubles team and moved Bella Cornejo to singles.
The move proved to be the right decision, as Hart defeated Louisville 10-8 on Wednesday at the Calabasas Swim and Tennis Center.
Cornejo won only one of her singles sets – a 6-2 win over Alex Cohen – but it was enough to get Hart the points it needed to win.
“I put Bella in a high-pressure situation there, but she came through,” said Hardbarger. “She’s been a starter and a sub switching off this year, but to come in into a playoff match, play so strong in the first set, that was a big key to our win today.”
Schwartz also meshed well with Kass. The two had only played together once before in a preleague match, but fit together seamlessly. They even had matching Halloween-themed socks.
The tandem dropped the first set 1-6, then bounced back with 6-0 and 6-2 wins in the second and third sets, respectively.
“We were already on the team together and friends,” Kass said. “That really helps and just knowing like I’ve seen Cameron play before, we played at a preseason match together so we already had some chemistry.”
Doubles play was strong all around for the Indians against the Royals. Shannon Sindle and Emily Thompson lost the first set 2-6, then won 6-1 in the second and 6-1 in the third.
Jennifer Russell and Stefani Woll won all three sets with scores of 6-4, 6-0 and 6-0.
“It really helps when you have a partner who is super reliable, so that came in really handy for me,” Woll said. “Jen is super consistent in the back and she sets me up really well at the net and so it helps us to split the players and get some of the easier points.”
Hart continues to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 3 tournament on Friday and will host the winner of the match between Cerritos and Pacifica of Garden Grove.
Last season, the Indians didn’t make it out of the wild-card round, losing to Burbank.
“The pressure is definitely different,” Hardbarger said. “We had some very tight matches today, but the girls really buckled down and we had a lot of seniors out there that know how to get the job done.
“We’re going to do our best on Friday and see if we can take it another round.”