Even in its first match of the year, the West Ranch girls tennis team didn’t take any shortcuts.
The Wildcats opened the 2019 season on Tuesday with a match against Arcadia High School, last year’s CIF Southern California regional tennis champion, and a team that has bested West Ranch the last three years.
This time around, West Ranch was able to earn an 11-7 victory on its home courts in a challenging battle against the Apaches.
“This team, we want good competition, that’s the base of this team,” said senior No. 1 singles player Jordyn McBride. “We’re going to get the best teams that we can possibly play, we want the best experiences, we look for all the best tournaments, all the best players because we want those matches, we want that competition. Playing against these high-level teams it just makes you that much better and it really prepares us for league because we’re used to these tough matches.”
McBride continued where she left off last season, helping lead the Wildcats with three victories in her three sets, winning 6-2, 6-0 and 6-4.
Her last set was a grind-it-out fight with the No. 2 player from Arcadia, though McBride was able to come away victorious all the while trying to improve areas of her game that she wants to get more comfortable with in those types of high-pressure situations.
“Taking the high balls in the air, volleying, that’s what I was trying to do out there. Obviously it was a little shaky, but I take these matches to get ready for league,” she said. “I’m going to incorporate what I’ve been working on, it might be a little bit shaky but I’m going to try it and do what I think will make me better. Do things that I don’t usually do even under pressure, and that was pressure, and I love that, because things you’re not used to that you do under pressure you get even more comfortable with it.”
Freshman Annette Robertson made a grand entrance in her first varsity match as the No. 2 singles player, losing her first set 3-6 but rebounding to win her next two sets 6-4 and 6-0.
Robertson showed her raw talent with a lightning-quick first serve and powerful forehand that sent her opponents flying across the court.
After losing her first set, an emotional Robertson was comforted by West Ranch head coach Dina McBride, who had a long conversation with the freshman.
“That was what our talk was about after the first set,” McBride said. “I told her, ‘You have all the tools so it’s my job to help you get to a place where you feel comfortable.’”
Joining Robertson on the varsity team are Avery Salin, Nicole Augusta and Allie Hinsley, who all got to see the court on Tuesday.
Augusta and Hinsley subbed in for Kayla Halberstam and Ashley Tonthat in the third round, losing their set 2-6, and Salin subbed in for Macy Muxlow and joined Brooke Johnston to win their third-round set 6-4.
“A lot of learning how to compete, they are new on the team and my job is to put them in the right frame of mind to compete,” McBride said of her varsity newcomers. “They have all the tools so now it’s like, can we put them together and that’s my job going forward, how can I make them play their best at the right times?”
Senior Chase Eisenberg was slotted as the No. 3 singles player, winning her first set 6-0 before dropping her next two 1-6 and 0-6.
Junior Shaira Busnawi joined forces with senior Angelina Ciuffo for the first time in a match to form West Ranch’s No. 1 doubles team.
The duo lost their first set in a tiebreaker 6-7, but then won their next two sets with scores of 6-2 and 6-2.
“That’s the first time I think they’ve ever played together in a match situation,” McBride said. “They have great chemistry, they’re both competitive players and I needed a really strong No. 1. They are both Southern Cal tournament players so I need a strong No. 1 and I think they’ve had the chemistry to do that and be that No. 1 position.”
Johnston and Muxlow won their first set 6-4 and dropped their second set 1-6. Halberstam and Tonthat won their first set 6-2 and lost their second set 1-6.
West Ranch will face Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks on Thursday in its first road match of the season. The match begins at 2:30 p.m. and will take place at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana.