The Golden Valley girls tennis team continued its preseason schedule on Tuesday against Royal High School, as it prepares for the start of Foothill League play this week.
The Grizzlies battled the Highlanders at home, losing 15-3, and have one more match against Simi Valley on Wednesday before league action starts on Thursday.
“Our preseason schools were either really easy to beat or a notch up from where we are, there was no clean middle ground in our competition in the preseason,” said Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac. “Some of our league matches are going to be against teams that have a lot more experience than us, so that’s good preparation at least psychologically for the girls to know what they’re going to be looking at against the better teams in league like West Ranch and Valencia, but I’m curious to see how we perform when the match gets tight.”
No. 3 singles player Makayla Zareno was the only player to win a set on the singles side, going 2-6, 1-6 and 6-1.
No. 1 singles player Jaiden Goudey and No. 2 Ashleigh Azarraga weren’t able to win a set on Tuesday, but Stimac was encouraged by their improvement and believes that as long as they continue to get better they will have a successful season.
“I’m looking for Makayla to loosen up her strokes and become more aggressive every single match. I’m looking for Jaiden to use all that topspin and add a lot more footwork to her game and I’m looking for Ashley to get around the court and to simply accelerate her racquet, keep being aggressive with topspin.” Stimac said. “It’s three slightly different styles of play. Jaiden has had some success coming forward to the net and I’m going to continue to encourage her.”
All three doubles teams have been a definite strength for the Grizzlies this preseason, and they are continually improving as league play inches closer.
Kennedi Williams, who usually plays alongside Evelyn Kong, form a dynamic No. 1 doubles team and have shown great leadership as the team captains.
Williams was out of town on Tuesday, so Kong paired up with Mindy Mello and they won two of their sets, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
When league play starts on Thursday, Mello will team up with Roselyn Uy, who was also unavailable on Tuesday. They normally play as the No. 2 doubles team.
Julie Jeon and Ashley Yoon will serve as the No. 3 doubles team and could provide some upsets this season, but they still need to work on their consistency.
“Both of them are playing so much better than last year, they will be my No. 1 team,” Stimac said of Williams and Kong. “My No. 2, Mindy Mello and Roselyn Uy, on any given they day they are able to beat Kennedi and Evelyn, it’s just a different style of winning, a different way to win. There’s more than one way to win at tennis and my doubles teams all have different ways to do it. My No. 3 team in doubles, Julie and Ashley, have very clean strokes and very good strokes, they just still have to figure out how to win.”
Golden Valley will travel to Simi Valley High School on Wednesday to conclude its preseason slate, then play Hart on Thursday at home in the first league match of the season.
While Stimac knows a league title is unlikely, he believes his team can compete with the rest of the league and is looking forward to watching his players continue to grow on and off the court.
“A successful season for me if I had to put a metric on it would be a team GPA of 4.0 or higher, a fourth-place finish in league or higher and if I take away the metric, just to see that every girl is playing better tennis and having fun,” he said. “That to me is as good as it gets.”
Hart 15, Buckley 3
No. 1 singles player Cameron Schwartz lost just a single game on Tuesday as the Indians defeated the Griffins handily.
No. 2 singles player Carly Wilkinson won all three of her sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 and No. 3 singles player Bella Cornejo won two of three, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
The No. 3 doubles team of Lauren Neal and Bree Lemos won two of three, 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 and the No. 1 doubles team of Julia Estrada and Hannah Heiber won their two sets 7-5, 6-0.
Andee Bates and Melanie Ramirez subbed in for Julia Hannah and Grace Howell and won their set 6-4.