On a gloomy Monday morning at the Cate School in Carpinteria, Golden Valley’s Justine Dondonay and West Ranch’s Jordyn McBride looked anything but. Both shined on the courts in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Individual Tennis Championships.
Dondonay won her first match with ease, defeating Sydney Bae of Marlborough School 6-1, 6-0.
After dropping the first game in her second match against Tiara Nourishad of La Reina High School, Dondany rattled off four straight games and won the first set 6-3.
She finished the match with a 6-0 win in her second set, advancing to the round of 32 for the second straight year.
“I’m just trying to stay focused even though I’m down. It was the first game of the set so it doesn’t really phase me that much,” Dondonay said. “I felt like during that game I figured out her game and it helped me warm up for the entire match.”
“One of the best things about Justine is she figures things out on the court. If one shot isn’t working, she has a second shot to go to,” Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac said. “She’s always attacking, always trying to figure out a player. She did great today. Figured out both opponents pretty quickly and got down to business.”
McBride fared just as well in her opening match as her Foothill League counterpart, defeating Tiffany Papazian of AGBU School 6-0, 6-0.
She was well on her way to advancing to the next round, taking a 6-0, then 5-0 advantage over Ventura’s Isabella Francis.
However, McBride conceded the match because she would be unable to continue playing in the tournament and didn’t want to give up a spot to a deserving player.
McBride is set to play at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship in Bradenton, Florida starting on Nov. 21, an invite-only event featuring over 2,000 players from around the world.
After that she will be playing in the International Tennis Federation Orange Bowl in Plantation, Florida.
Both events coincide with the CIF-SS playoffs.
West Ranch coach Dina McBride was displeased that the timing didn’t work out, as major tennis tournaments across the country often overlap, but she was happy to see that the Foothill League will be well-represented with Dondonay advancing.
“I am so excited for Justine. She’s not only a champion, she has such great character,” McBride said. “I’m so glad she’s representing Santa Clarita and the whole valley. She’s going to do amazing.”
Dondonay will have a week off before the round of 32 begins on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at the Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.
While she said she’s going to catch up on her studies during the week, she’s certainly not going to skip any practice time on the court.
“I’m just going to keep on practicing, keep on hitting. Focus on my match, not my opponents,” Dondonay said. “I know there is a lot of good competitors further on in the tournament. I’m going to focus on improving my own game.”
One Valencia doubles team advances
The Vikings sent two doubles teams to the CIF-SS Individual Tennis Championships after the duo of Amanda Tabanera and Brenna Whelan defeated their teammates Taylor Cohen and Ashley Villarta in the Foothill League prelims.
On Monday at the Claremont Club, the Tabanera and Whelan tandem won all three of their matches to advance to the round of 32 by scores of 6-2, 6-0 then 6-1, 6-0 followed by 6-1, 6-2.
The Cohen and Villarta combo won their first match but lost in the second round.
Tabanera advanced to the semifinals in the CIF-SS Championship in doubles last year with her then-partner Carlotta Nonnis-Marzano.
Tabanera and Whelan will play again on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at the Whittier Narrows Tennis Center.