For the West Ranch Wildcats girls tennis team, three is a magic number.
West Ranch dropped only three sets on Thursday afternoon, defeating Valencia 15-3 on its way to a third straight Foothill League title.
The Wildcats also haven’t lost a league match in three years.
Head coach Dina McBride attributes the team’s success to the family atmosphere that’s been built over the years at West Ranch.
“This is the best team I’ve ever had in terms of synergy, supporting one another, family,” McBride said. “Everything external, that resonated on the court. Because of the outside friendships, that’s why we’re able to clinch these big matches.”
The Wildcats were once again led by No. 1 singles player Jordyn McBride, who dropped only one game on the afternoon.
Despite being the No. 1 target in Foothill League who often gets her opponent’s best effort, McBride has remarkably not lost a set in a league match in her three years on varsity.
“After 60 matches plus, she’s never lost a set and everyone is gunning for her,” Dina said. “The pressure she’s under in having to come through every single time and bring it. It’s amazing how resilient she is and how tough she is as a competitor. She has lifted the program completely.”
The doubles competition was tight on Thursday, as several sets went down to the wire and there wasn’t a single sweep. West Ranch was able to pull through, however, winning every set in doubles.
“I’m very proud because we are very balanced,” Dina said about her doubles squads. “Audrey (Kim) and Emily (Andrews) are my veterans, they know the show because they’ve been here and done it. But equally balanced are my No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. They really stepped it up today.”
The match marked a bittersweet moment for Valencia senior Amanda Tabanera, who concluded her senior season in league by winning two of her three sets.
“I’m sad I’m leaving here. I’ve been on this team for four years and grown really close to everyone,” said Tabanera, who on Monday committed to play Division 1 tennis at Valparaiso University in Indiana. “I’m also happy because I get to continue playing on another team, so I’m excited.”
Tabanera’s one set loss came at the hands of McBride, a 6-1 defeat, but it was much more competitive than the final score shows.
After the set, a visibly emotional Tabanera was comforted by her coaches Annie Kellogg and Jen Azevedo.
“Basically they told me I have much more to look forward to,” Tabanera said. “It’s just one match and hopefully I’ll have another chance at prelims.”
Foothill League prelims begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday of next week at the Paseo Club in Valencia and conclude on Thursday. Tabanera could very well face McBride once again in a battle to make the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
Along with Tabanera, Valencia’s No. 2 singles player Brenna Whelan will also be competing in prelims.
Whelan defeated Shaira Busnawi 6-4 on Thursday, but lost her other two sets to McBride and Chase Eisenberg.
She believes can she rebound next week against a competitive field in prelims.
“I have to practice and work hard, take it game by game,” Whelan said. “Finals is four rounds in the tournament, so I have to take it one match at a time. I’m excited. It’s going to be a good challenge.”