Vikings, Wildcats continue tennis rivalry at the top

Valencia's Sydney Thay returns a volley in a Foothill League matchup with Hart at Valencia High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The Foothill League is loaded with talented girls tennis players this year, but the race to the top of the standings figures to once again be between West Ranch and Valencia.

The Wildcats have won the league title three years in a row, and are looking to make it four straight this season. 

West Ranch is led by seniors Jordyn McBride and Chase Eisenberg, who form a dynamic one-two punch that will be difficult to beat this season. The doubles team of Shaira Busnawi and Angelina Ciuffo is also a contender for the doubles title.

“I think we have a really good chance to go undefeated and take it into the semis and finals of CIF,” Eisenberg said. “We have great chemistry, we all train so hard; I’m so glad for my senior year this is the team that we have, because I think we have a good chance to go really far.”

Valencia is extremely young, with only one senior on the varsity roster. That senior, Brenna Whelan, happens to be one of the best players in the area, and will contend for an individual crown at the Foothill League prelims and finals. 

The Vikings also welcomed talented freshmen Sydney Thay and Tiffany Recalde to the team, joining experienced varsity players Sydney Tamondong, a sophomore, and junior Ashley Villarta. 

“We’ve been working hard over the past weeks and summer camp, we have our No. 1 goal,” said Valencia head coach Jackson Boxall, who is in his first year helming the team. “We focus on working on our game plan and how we are going to play every team to get the results that we want.”

Saugus, Hart and Golden Valley will all contend for the No. 3 spot in league, with the third-place finisher guaranteed a spot in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

The Centurions have the early leg up after defeating the Indians 9-9 (89-82 in games) in their first match against each other, while the Grizzlies already have a loss to the Indians.

“Our plan is to keep getting better and better, finish league strong and get into the playoffs,” said Saugus head coach Ken Jeffris. “I love playing in our league. We have a good, strong league, we have competition that’s good, it’s a lot of fun. The girls have been working hard in the preseason and this is what we fight for.”

Canyon will struggle to win a league match this season, as the team is extremely young and still developing. 

However, coach Richard Bristow is doing his best to put his players in a position to succeed against the top competition in the league.

“We know if we stay in a rally for a long time we’re probably going to lose, so we’ve been working a lot more on strategy, finding the weaknesses in our opponent,” Bristow said. “I told them to be aggressive, find the angles, try to end the points early. That is going to be our best bet so that’s what we’ve been working on.”

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