Valencia girls tennis doubles player Ashley Villarta prepares to receive a serve in a match against Thacher in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs at Valencia High School on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Haley Sawyer/The SIgnal

Valencia girls tennis beats Thacher to advance to 2nd round

Valencia girls tennis advanced through the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Wednesday afternoon after beating The Thacher School of Ojai, 13-5, at Valencia High School.

“It’s exciting,” said the Vikings’ only senior, Brenna Whelan. “I mean, this has been a good win for us, I know the past couple years we kind of had a tough start, so it’s nice that we got a win this year and that we know we’re going to be able to go to the second round.”

It’ll be the first time for every player on the Valencia roster in the second round of the postseason. Each of the players had a key role in the win, as the Vikes won seven singles matches and seven doubles matches in the contest.

Whelan won all three sets with scores of 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. She is coming off a performance at the Foothill League finals that included a doubles title with her partner, Sydney Thay.

Valencia’s Sydney Smith returns the ball in a match against Thacher in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs at Valencia High School on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Thay also won all her sets, picking up wins by scores of 6-0, 6-2, and 6-1.

“It’s a little difficult,” Whelan said of switching between singles and doubles. “It started off kind of slow today but once I got back into it, I was fine. They’re totally different games, so switching back and forth, it can be a little difficult but I enjoy it. It’s part of tennis, you’ve got to play both. I was happy to play today and I thought I played well.”

Once Whelan found her focus in singles once again, she was able to dial in on her serve and her accuracy.

“I was able to play well and put the ball where I want it, so that was a big advantage to me today with playing with some of the girls,” she said. “And my serve I was happy with, too.”

Doubles partners Ashley Villarta and Sydney Tamondong won all three sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, while the team of Tiffany Recalde and Jonam Welinkar won 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.

Valencia coach Jackson Boxall has been preaching aggressive play all season and was pleased with the style of play he saw against Thacher on Wednesday.

“I was seeing a lot of poaching, a lot of overall net aggressiveness and it think that’s how we ended up getting those really close matches that we were fighting for,” Boxall said.

Valencia’s Jonam Welinkar prepares to hit the ball in a match against Thacher in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs at Valencia High School on Wednesday. Nov. 6, 2019. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

The Vikings next play the winner of the match between Harvard-Westlake and Brentwood on Friday. At the end of the match, Boxall asked his team to take a deep look at what they need to improve on for themselves, but is also encouraging them to work on consistency in serves and pressure points.

“We’ll work on some things, but I think what we did yesterday helped us a lot for today,” Whelan said. “Harvard-Westlake or whoever we play should be a lot better, so it’s just going out and competing and all doing our best at what we can do.”

Poly 13, Hart 5

The Indians lost to Poly in the first round of the Division 2 CIF-Southern Section tournament.

No. 1 singles player Josie Wondra won three sets by scores of 6-2, 6-0, 6-2. The doubles team of Cameron Schwartz and Lauren Neal won two sets 7-6 (7-4 in games) and 6-2.

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