The Golden Valley girls tennis team hosted Lancaster High School on Tuesday and opened the 2019 season with a dominant 16-2 win.
The Grizzlies’ singles players didn’t drop a set all day, sweeping all nine of the singles matches. The doubles teams ran into some trouble, but fixed their mistakes along the way to win all but two of the nine doubles sets.
“My singles players were pretty solid straight down the line,” said Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac. “They did exactly what I wanted, that’s just playing their game and be consistent.
“The doubles players, we just have to work on some movement issues. Just trying to get them to move and it’s the first match of the season so girls tend to slow their tracks down a little bit when they need to accelerate them. They just need to be a little braver when they are hitting the ball, so the first match of the season we are just working out nerves.”
With arguably one the best Foothill League girls tennis players, Justine Dondonay, opting to not play her senior year, the Grizzlies turned to Makayla Zareno as their new No. 1.
Zareno dispatched Lancaster’s No. 1 singles player Lauren Crawley and the No. 3 player Sam Sison by identical 6-0 scores. Running into some trouble with the No. 2 Kamile Smith, Zareno dropped the only point of the night, but rebounded to twin 6-1.
The Grizzlies No. 3 singles player Jaiden Goudy had the best performance of any player, sweeping all three of her matches and not dropping a single point.
First-year varsity player and sophomore Ashleigh Azarraga came out determined beating Lancaster’s No. 2 Gabby Garcia 6-0, but admittedly got ahead of herself in the second match.
Leading Crawley, Azarraga dropped three points and allowed Crawley to climb back into the game down by one point.
Azarraga found a rhythm and wore her opponent down to come away with the 6-3 second set win and capped the day off with another 6-0 victory over Priscilla Sanchez.
Lancaster’s No. 1 doubles team of Shayla Arguelles and Ivett Nunez were the players that gave the Grizzlies headaches all day long. Arguelles and Nunez won both sets that they played against Golden Valley, defeating Evelyn Kang and Kennedi Williams, and Julie Jeon and Ashley Yoon 6-4 and 6-2, respectively.
After dropping the first set, Williams and Kang finished out the matchday with a 6-1 and 6-3 win over the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams.
Playing together for the first time, Jeon and Yoon were exciting to watch feeding off each other, earning points on some risky shots.
“In the first set we played really consistent and knew when to take those risky shots, but in the second we were just ripping balls and taking everything out,” Yoon said.
Picking up wins against Lancaster’s No. 2 and No. 3 team, Jeon closed out their day with one of her many aces on the day.
“They are one of those teams that weren’t slowing the rackets down, they were just going for everything, really banging away,” Stimac said. “Win, lose or draw, they would just kind of keeping swinging at the ball. Definitely, need to work with them on when to swing big and when to tone it down a bit and figure it out.”
The Grizzlies No. 3 doubles team of Star Hartnek and Mindy Mello won all three of their matches to seal the opening day win for Golden Valley.
The Grizzlies will test their perfect record as they host Simi Valley at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
“We have a really good group of girls. We have had good team leadership from my team captains, to be honest with you I draw some of the nicest kids on the campus to tennis,” Stimac said. “It’s just a good environment for kids to be in and a lot of good students out here too. Academically, this is just an amazing team.”