Brenna Whelan and Sydney Thay were fairly opposite tennis players this season. Whelan, a senior at Valencia, took herself and the sport very seriously. Thay, a freshman, was eager and lighthearted every time she took the court.
But the two were both singles players for the Vikings who badly wanted to do well in the Foothill League finals and have a long playoff run.
“Through the season we were always trying to figure out,” Whelan said. “I knew Sydney before she came to Valencia and she was always singles. We thought maybe it would be a good experience.”
Whelan also knew she wanted to play tennis in college, and doubles experience in high school would be valuable at the next level.
The result of Whelan and Thay teaming up was a Foothill League doubles title, a trip to the Round of 32 in the CIF-Southern Section individual playoffs and now, the All-SCV Doubles Team of the Year title.
“We had to warm up to each other,” Whelan said. “Communication-wise we were playing like singles players when we started and as we’re playing more we started to click more. We communicated a lot better once we got to CIF and everything. It took a little time, but once we got our groove it helped.”
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Although the two had different attitudes on the court, it served to their benefit. Whelan’s experience complemented Thay’s young eagerness.
“I think I’m a little more serious when it comes to competing,” Whelan said. “Obviously she wants to win and she wants to do the best she can. She’s more like, let’s just have fun and I’m like, we’ve got to win. I think it was really good that I had her by my side.”
Whelan has finished up her college applications and is hoping to be accepted to and play at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also hopes to continue working with children who want to play tennis, like she has been doing with the country club she and her family belong to in Thousand Oaks.
As for Thay, she’s unsure of whether she’ll return as a singles or doubles player next season. She’d like to play singles, but things could change, especially when it comes to the Foothill League finals and the playoffs.
“It’s pretty far away and I am going to see how I play throughout the season because anything can change,” Thay said. “But I am definitely looking forward to improving during offseason and coming back stronger next season as a singles player.”
All-SCV Girls Doubles Team
Chase Eisenburg and Brooke Johnston, West Ranch
The duo advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Round of 32 after winning 6-1, 6-0 in the first round and 6-1, 2-6 and 10-3 in a super tiebreaker in the CIF-SS Individual Sectionals. They finished as runner-up in the Foothill League finals.
Shaira Busnawi and Angelina Cuiffo, West Ranch
Busnawi and Cuiffo finished third in league after beating Hart’s Julia Hannah and Grace Howell and the Wildcats’ Ashley Tonthat and Kayla Halberstam in the Foothill League prelims. A pair that was together for most of the league season, Busnawi and Cuiffo won all three sets in the second meeting with rival Valencia.
Ashley Villarta and Sydney Tamondong, Valencia
These two Vikings embodied the aggressive style of play that Valencia strived for this season. They used that style to finish fourth at the Foothill League finals and win all three sets in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs against Thacher.
Cameron Schwartz and Lauren Neal, Hart
Schwartz was a talented competitor no matter who she played next to. She played with Josie Wondra later in the season, but when she was with Neal in the Foothill League season, the two were just as much of a force and helped keep things neck-in-neck with Saugus for the third place in league.
Emily Belcher and Abby Bolks, Saugus
One of the only doubles teams that were together for the whole season, Belcher and Bolks lost in the second round of the Foothill League finals to West Ranch’s Chase Eisenburg and Brooke Johnston. Some of the best performances from the Centurions’ No. 2 doubles team came in the first and second meetings with Hart, where they won two sets in each event.
Macy Muxlow & Allie Hinsley, West Ranch
The two were the Wildcats’ No. 3 doubles team throughout the season, but it was common to see them sweep their opponents in Foothill League play. Muxlow switched to singles to close out the Foothill League finals.