In a rematch of the closest Foothill League girls tennis match of the season, Hart was able to return the favor against Saugus on Thursday at College of the Canyons, winning 10-8 in another nail-biter.
Saugus won the first meeting between the teams 9-9 (89-82 in games), but Hart’s win on Thursday propelled the Indians to the No. 3 position in the league standings, edging the Centurions by a single game.
“That was just a team effort all around. Everyone contributed, everyone had a role to play and they played it to perfection today,” said Hart head coach Allan Hardbarger. “It was a high-pressure match, everyone knew what they had to do and every single girl out there rose to the occasion and played lights out. It was the most complete match of the year today and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Hart captured six points in singles, led by strong performances from No. 1 Josie Wondra and No. 2 Carly Wilkinson.
Wondra won all three of her sets and lost just two games total, while Wilkinson won two of three sets. Using a strong serve and an all-around game, Wilkinson won two hard-fought 7-5 sets against Saugus’ No. 2 Maddie Wiseman and No. 3 Natalie Ratzlaff.
“Carly has such a big game and today she had that confidence in her big game,” Hardbarger said. “She went out there and played like everything was cool out there, my heart was racing watching her play, but she went for big shots and she earned those wins today. Big serves, big forehands at big moments.”
Saugus was able to win five out of nine points on the doubles side, thanks in large part to a gritty showing from the No. 3 doubles team of Riyana Chhabra and Katrina Yim.
Chhabra and Yim won two of three sets, defeating Hart’s No. 1 team Julia Estrada and Grace Howell 6-3 and No. 2 team Bree Lemos and Melanie Ramirez 6-1.
“I’m so proud of those two. They did what they were asked of,” Saugus head coach Ken Jeffris said. “They went out and beat their No. 1 and No. 2 and played their hearts out today.”
The senior tandem of Abby Bolks and Emily Belcher also won two sets for the Centurions, helping keep their team close.
No. 1 singles player Emily Christensen was the other bright spot for the Centurions, winning two of three sets.
Hart’s No. 3 doubles team, consisting of Cameron Schwartz and Lauren Neal, was on fire all afternoon, winning their three sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.
Holding a 5-1 advantage over Saugus’ No. 1 team of Alyssa Alvidrez and Katie Denzin in the final round, Schwartz hit a serve that was not returnable on match point, securing the tenth and decisive point for the Indians.
“We avenged ourselves and we’re on a good foot forward,” Neal said. “We have more confidence and we’re ready for CIF.”
“It feels really good, it gives everyone confidence on the team,” Schwartz added.
Each team has two league matches remaining, with Saugus taking on Valencia on the road and Hart hosting West Ranch on Tuesday.
If Hart wins one out of its two remaining matches, a playoff spot will be in the cards. Saugus has a chance to make the postseason as an at-large bid, too.
“We want to finish strong,” Jeffris said. “We’re going to petition for an at-large bid into the playoffs and see where that lands, and hopefully there is a lot more tennis left to play.”