Saugus singles players leave it all on the court at Foothill League prelims

Canyon's Amber Kashay returns a volley at the Foothill League Prelims at the Paseo Club in Valencia Wednesday morning. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Last season, Saugus tennis player Emily Christensen fell short of the Foothill League semifinals. She was determined to get there this year but achieving that goal meant going through a teammate, first.

After beating Hart’s Bella Cornejo 6-1, 6-1 in the first round, Christensen faced fellow Centurion Maddie Wiseman in the second round at the Paseo Club on Wednesday. The two had seen each other plenty of times before in practice, as the two were often paired together.

“We practice together every day,” Christensen said. “Our coach has the two of us practice in singles and we both know like, each other’s strengths and weaknesses so a lot of our games went to deuce and we’d have like 20-point deuces because we’d keep going back and forth.”

Just like in practice, the match went to a tiebreaker. Christensen, a junior, was able to best Wiseman, a senior, 3-6, 6-2, 10-5.

Wiseman played tough and beat Valencia’s Mia Guterman 6-4, 6-0 in the first round before playing Christensen.

“Maddie, her teammate, played her heart out today,” said Saugus coach Ken Jeffris. “She beat a very good girl in the first round from Valencia to get to play Emily and Maddie was a tough competitor today, unfortunately, they had to play each other and it went the distance and Emily came out on top.

 “I’m just proud of both of them that they can be friends off the court and competitors on the court.”

Now, Christensen turns her focus to the semifinals, where she’ll play West Ranch’s Jordyn McBride, the returning Foothill League singles champion. She also never dropped a set last season in Foothill League play.

“She has a lot of power and she’s very good mentally,” Christensen said. “She can place the ball where she wants. She has power, she has consistency, so she has everything going for her in the game of tennis. She’s both mentally and physically strong.”

In addition to the Christensen-McBride matchup, Canyon’s Amber Kashay will take on West Ranch’s Annette Robertson in the semis.

Kashay beat Golden Valley’s Makayla Zareno 6-1, 6-1 before moving on to beat Macy Muxlow of West Ranch 6-4, 6-3.

Robertson took down Saugus’ Nicole Ratzlaff, 6-0, 6-1 in the first round, then Ashley Azarraga 6-2, 6-0 in the second.

Having three teams represented on the second day of the Foothill League finale demonstrates how competitive the league has become.

“We have a very tough league,” Jeffris said. “The Foothill League is one of the better leagues in the Southern Section and it says a lot for our programs to have representatives from four different schools play in the semifinals tomorrow.”

The Foothill League semis are set to begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Paseo Club.

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