By Jesse Muñoz
COC Sports Information Director
For The Signal
The 2019 women’s tennis season continues for College of the Canyons with two singles players and pair of doubles teams qualifying to compete at the upcoming regional championships after a successful showing at last weekend’s Western State Conference (WSC) Singles and Doubles Championships.
The first leg of the three-day event was held April 5-6 at Ventura College, with final rounds slated for Friday.
Canyons has a shot at a doubles conference championship with the pairing of Una Stanisavljevic and Seleste Sakato having advanced to Friday’s semi-final round.
Stanisavljevic, who played at West Ranch High School a season ago, and Sakato, who began collegiate play this season at the age of 65, entered the conference tourney as the No. 4 ranked doubles team. The duo previously posted a record of 7-3 during conference play and picked up two more victories on Saturday.
“The success of their team this year has to do with Una’s power and Seleste’s touch and finesse,” said COC head coach Patty LaBat. “They throw other teams off with their variety. Una is quick and Seleste is great with her net game.”
The team was one of 10 to receive an automatic bye into the round of 16, then took another step towards its championship goal by defeating Santa Monica College’s duo of Dolores Padilla/Iren Feher by an 8-0 score. In the quarterfinal round, Stanisavljevic/Sakato took down No. 11 Jule Lauinger/Julia Jakobsen of Santa Barbara City College by another 8-0 final.
Friday’s semi-final match will see Stanisavljevic/Sakato taking on No. 14 Jacqlyn Zavala/Alexis Strange of Bakersfield College in a 1 p.m. start.
The winner moves on to face the victor between No. 3 Isabella Chacon/Elen Ghazaryan of Glendale and No. 2 Kayleen Sanchez/Paige Darstein of Bakersfield for the WSC Doubles Championship. That match will begin at 3 p.m.
“They have a great chance to make it to the championship round,” LaBat said.
Regardless of what happens on Friday, Stanisavljevic/Sakato will move on to compete in the CCCAA Southern California Regional Championships beginning April 25 in Ojai. The four-day event is also the site of the CCCAA State Championships, where a team, singles and doubles champion will all be crowned.
COC will also be represented by the doubles pair of Marisa Wambolt/Nicole Vallarta at the regional championships in Ojai.
Wambolt, who played at the SoCal regional as a freshman, and Villarta, the current freshman who didn’t play competitively in high school, were a perfect 6-0 during conference doubles play. They entered the WSC tourney as the No. 9 ranked team and received a first-round bye, then lost to the No. 3 Glendale duo of Chacon/Ghazaryan 8-2. Nevertheless, Villarta/Wambolt still move on to the regionals after a series of defaults affecting teams in the tournament’s field.
In its inaugural 2018 season, COC sent two teams to the regional championships with the doubles duos of Jenny Cranert and Leilani Figalan joining Wambolt and Brienna Best.
Canyons will see two players compete in singles action at the regional championships with Stanisavljevic and Villarta punching their tickets twice by also qualifying on that side.
No. 2 ranked Stanisavljevic started the conference tourney with convincing wins over Jennifer Goldsbury of Glendale (6-0, 6-1) and No. 15 Victoria Dafos of SBCC (7-6, 6-2) before suffering an upset in the quarterfinal round. Stanisavljevic fell in a tough match to No. 5 ranked Darstein of Bakersfield (6-3, 6-4) to end her conference run, but still moves on to Ojai.
“Una had an exceptional season in singles. She’s quick, has a great serve and forehand and her backhand has improved greatly over the season,” LaBat said. “The tournament in Ojai and opportunity to compete against the best players in Southern California at this level will be a great test for her.”
The freshman finished the regular season with a 12-4 overall record and 10-3 mark in WSC play, including nine straight singles wins to start the conference portion of the season. She becomes the first player in COC program history to earn all-conference honors after being named to the All-WSC Second-Team as a No. 1 singles player.
“And she is a great leader on and off the court,” added LaBat. “We are so excited to have her around for another year.”
Villarta will also compete individually at the regionals after a run that saw her go 2-1 at the conference championships to earn a spot in Ojai.
“Nicole has been our most improved player over the course of the season,” LaBat said. “She has so much upside.”
Entering as the tourney’s No. 14 ranked player, Villarta quickly defeated Ashlyne Aguilar of Bakersfield (6-1, 6-1), but had the tables turned in the next round vs. No. 3 Chacon of Glendale (7-5, 6-0). Down but not out, Villarta went on to win her back-draw match over Isabella Hakopian of Glendale (7-5, 6-0) to secure another spot at the regionals.
“She is so mentally tough and usually finds a way to come through the close matches with a victory,” commented LaBat.
In just its second season of existence, Canyons (9-7, 9-5 WSC) finished third in the team conference standings behind champions SBCC (16-3, 14-0) and runner-up Bakersfield (17-4, 12-2).
Cougars Place Fourth at SoCal Preview
Canyons men’s golf finished fourth in the field of 16 teams with a five-man score of 369 while freshman Nobuhiko Wakaari carded a 68 to tie for medalist honors at the Southern California Regional Preview played at Los Serranos Country Club on Monday.
Wakaari, who has now turned in under-par scores in the last three events dating back to March 18, tied with Connor O’Hern of Orange Coast College (OCC) for the day’s low score.
OCC (357) won the event and Mt. San Antonio College (367) was runner up. The Cougars actually tied with third-place SBCC (369) but the Vaqueros’ had a sixth-man score that was one stroke better than COC, relegating Canyons to fourth. Palomar College (371) was fifth in the standings.
James Wilkes finished second on the squad with a one-over round of 73. Matt Mansholt and Jules Lavigne were next at 75. Anguerrand Voisin was the last to score for COC with his round of 78.
Canyons returns to conference play Monday at San Dimas Canyon Golf Course.
Softball’s Streak Back at Three After Sweep at Cuesta
Canyons blanked host Cuesta College 9-0 and 8-0 to sweep its Saturday road doubleheader and push its most recent win streak to three games.
Canyons (21-11, 8-2) has now won nine of its last 10 heading into an important conference matchup at L.A. Mission College on Thursday.
The two-game set vs. Cuesta had originally been scheduled for mid-February until being rescheduled due to weather but couldn’t have come at a better for the Cougars. COC has scored 48 runs over the last five games and is now batting .358 as a team to rank No. 7 in the state.
During the team’s recent six-game win streak, COC outscored opponents by a 58-21 margin.
On Saturday, the Cougars won the first game 9-0 in six innings behind a strong outing from starter Kaitlyn Post (8-4). Canyons jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Alondra Torres in the second inning and never looked back.
Rena Edwards and Valerie Rivas both had two RBIs in the game, as did Post, who helped her cause with a two-run single in the sixth that helped end things early. Rivas finished 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Canyons wrapped things up early in the second game after a five-run rally in the fifth to put the Cougars ahead 8-0. Megan Wilson (13-6) got the win after allowing just three hits and striking out three.
Once again it was Torres starting the attack with a two-run double in the second inning. Canyons added another run in the third on a long double by Sierra Boyajian to make it 3-0.
In the fifth, RBI doubles from Post, Micayla Aguilar and Camryn Webb helped put the game away at 8-0.
Post finished 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs and a stolen base. Aguilar and Webb both went 2-for-3 in the game and scored a pair of runs.
Canyons currently sits two games behind first-place Antelope Valley College in the conference standings with four WSC games left on the docket.