Hot start propels Saugus girls tennis to victory over Canyon

Saugus' Maddie Wiseman returns a volley in a Foothill League matchup with Canyon at Canyon High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The Saugus girls tennis team faced off against Canyon for the second and final time this season at Canyon High School on Tuesday.

The Centurions got off to a hot start and built on it through the end of the match, winning 17-1 to solidify their place as the No. 3 team in the Foothill League standings.

Canyon’s start was sluggish, losing several sets quickly, but the Cowboys came out in the second and third round with a renewed energy to keep the later sets close.

“I thought we picked it up a lot better in the last couple rounds. We started off terrible, no energy, very lethargic and even though the scores didn’t change as the match went on I thought we did play better,” Canyon head coach Richard Bristow said. “I was proud of them that they continued to get better and not throw it away after coming out with no energy.”

Saugus won all nine points in doubles action, led by the No. 1 team of Alyssa Alvidrez and Katie Denzin and the No. 2 team of Abby Bolks and Emily Belcher, who lost just three games combined in six sets. 

The Centurions captured eight of nine points on the singles side, even with No. 1 Emily Christensen playing only one set before being subbed out.

“They all played with confidence, it was good tennis today,” Saugus head coach Ken Jeffris said. “We worked on the things we’ve been working on in practice, doing the things that it takes to win and they came out and executed today. I’m proud of our girls.”

Canyon got its lone point from No. 1 singles player Amber Kashay, who defeated Saugus’ Maddie Wiseman 6-1.

Canyon’s Amber Kashay returns a volley in a Foothill League matchup with Saugus at Canyon High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

In the final set of the day, Kashay went back and forth with Saugus’ Natalie Ratzlaff to reach a tiebreaker set. Ratzlaff came away with the 7-6 (7-3) victory as her teammates cheered her on.

“That was huge for Natalie,” Jeffris said. “I’m proud of how she answered, came out, stepped up and won that match.”

Bristow decided to change his lineup a bit, putting usual singles players Brooklyn Rappe and Maya Bernal together as a doubles team.

Despite losing all three sets, Bristow was happy with their play and will likely pair up the players again in the future.

“We took a look after the first half of league season and the results just weren’t great,” Bristow said. “As I tell the girls, if something is not working you have to change it, so we changed up the lineup and we’re going to take a few matches to see how it goes.”

Canyon will be on the road at West Ranch and Saugus will face Hart on the road on Thursday, with match times scheduled for 3 p.m.

The match between Saugus and Hart has huge playoff implications, as the winner of that match will likely finish as the No. 3 team in the league and qualify for the postseason. 

Saugus won the first meeting 9-9 (89-82 in games) after carrying an 8-4 lead into the final round.

“They are ready to step up and deal with the pressure, last time the pressure got to us,” Jeffris said about this Thursday’s match. “This time the girls are practicing with more confidence, they are attacking the ball more. We’re not going to be playing on our heels, we’re going after it.”

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