The Foothill League prelims concluded in exhilarating fashion on Thursday afternoon at the Paseo Club of Valencia, as West Ranch’s Jordyn McBride and Golden Valley’s Justine Dondonay battled for the singles title.
McBride pulled away in the super tiebreak, defeating Dondonay 6-1, 2-6, 10-8 to win her second consecutive league crown.
The match started off slow for Dondonay, who struggled with her shot as several strikes hit the net or went out of bounds.
After losing the first set, Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac gave Dondonay some words of encouragement and she was able to regroup in the second set and come away with the win, forcing the super tiebreak.
“The first set I was struggling physically, but after Stimac talked to me, I started getting more hyped up and started playing my game,” Dondonay said.
As opposed to playing a third set, a super tiebreak was in effect, and the first player to score 10 points with at least a two-point advantage would be the winner.
McBride and Dondonay went point-for-point in the final set, with McBride pulling ahead 6-5, then Dondonay jumping ahead 8-7. McBride then won three consecutive points, giving her the 10-8 victory.
“I’m super impressed with Justine. A lot of players would walk off that court after being defeated 1-6 in the first set, but she calmed down and got to playing her brand of tennis,” Stimac said. “That super tiebreaker could have gone either way. Couple points one way or the other but it was a great couple sets to watch. All credit to Jordyn, she played amazing today.”
“It was just amazing tennis. Every point mattered, every point was structured, they both had tactics going on. It was like mini professional tennis,” West Ranch head coach Dina McBride said. “Congratulations to both girls. They were equally matched. Tennis in the Santa Clarita Valley has risen and these two girls are champions.”
Other Foothill League coaches on hand were also enamored by the match between the two players.
“Just wonderful tennis, nice to see such a high level of tennis here in Santa Clarita Valley,” said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. “Both of them will represent Foothill League very well.”
McBride and Dondonay will both advance to the CIF-Southern Section Individual Sectionals, which begin on Monday, Nov. 19 at Cate High School in Carpinteria.
Madie Wiseman of Saugus finished in third place, defeating Maria Cedeno of Valencia 6-3, 6-4 in the consolation match.
Valencia was well-represented in the doubles championship as Amanda Tabanera and Brenna Whelan defeated teammates Taylor Cohen and Ashley Villarta in the final round.
“It was kind of weird,” Tabanera said about playing her teammates in the finals. “It was competitive, but it was also chill because we’re all friends and we’re all close. I’m so proud of Brenna. We played really well and I’m excited to move on to CIF.”
As the runners-up, Cohen and Villarta will also move on to the CIF-SS playoffs.
Their coach was able to sit back and enjoy while her teams played each other.
“I actually got to enjoy my lunch without my stomach rumbling,” Kellogg said with a smile. “I’m really happy for them. My teams got it done today. Nice to see my senior Taylor get through. Happy to see that happen for her and Amanda also.”
In the consolation match, two West Ranch teams went head-to-head, as Shaira Busnawi and Chase Eisenberg edged their teammates Audrey Kim and Emily Andrews 6-1, 6-4.
Up next is the CIF-SS team tennis championships, which begin on Wednesday, Oct. 31. West Ranch, Valencia and Hart all qualified for the tournament.