By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
In the blink of an eye, the girls’ tennis season was taken away from the teams of the Foothill League. The 2021 season marked the first time in over a year that the girls were able to go out and play, despite the social distancing required in tennis.
Valencia looked to reclaim the league title, and that’s exactly what they did.
Here is a look back at the girls’ tennis Foothill League season:
All records are according to the CIF Southern Section.
Valencia High School
The Valencia Vikings finished on top of the Foothill League with a perfect 10-0 league record (19-5 overall) and reclaimed the league title. The Vikings were also the only team to compete in the second round of the CIF playoffs, before losing to Claremont.
“The season went pretty good,” said Vikings head coach Darrell Peries. “The goal of the season was to compete at every single match no matter who it was. We didn’t end where we wanted to but it was still a successful run. I’ll definitely miss the seniors. I wish I had more time with them since this was my first year as the varsity head coach. Having them one more year would’ve been nice but we’ll continue to work with the players we have next year.”
The Vikings will bring back their star singles player Sydney Thay as well as singles and doubles player Skylar Braithwaite. Doubles player Sydney Tamondong will be one of the seniors the Vikings will look to replace next season.
“I promise they have a bright future with tennis,” said Tamondong after her final match. “I’m so happy they accepted me to be on this team and gave me the best memories I’ve ever had in high school.”
West Ranch High School
The West Ranch Wildcats finished tied for second place with the Hart Indians, ending with a 7-3 league record (9-7-1 overall). The Wildcats made the playoffs but had their season cut short going up against a talented San Marino team, losing 18-0.
Despite the season being cut short with the bittersweet ending for the Wildcats, according to head coach Jackie Ressler, there is still much to be happy about from the season.
“I’m pretty happy about how our season went,” said Ressler. “The girls know that I care about improving the mentality and I always tell them there is a reason they are on this team right now. I hope I taught them good traits to carry them over into everyday life. I’m sad and I will miss our graduating seniors, but I will also be having most of my players back. The new players know my expectations heading into next season. If they want to be with me, we’ll have fun.”
A key returner for the Wildcats next season will be singles player Mary Carmen Martinez-Kladt-Benavides, who was the runner-up in the individual championships.
Hart High School
The Hart Indians tied with the Wildcats for second place with a league record of 9-3 (15-7 overall) and competed in the wildcard round of the CIF playoffs. Unfortunately for the Indians, their playoffs also ended early in a 16-2 loss to Windward.
Head coach Alan Hardbarger still feels the season was a huge success despite not ending the season where they would have liked, and looks to next season to continue their momentum.
“We had so many girls that were inspired to play,” said Hardbarger. “They really improved and they just really get along with each other. From a coaching standpoint this has been an amazing year. The goal is to always go out there and compete and have fun. I’m really lucky to have gotten to share this time with them.”
Of the graduating seniors for the Indians, Madison Woo will be leaving after finishing in third place in the individual playoffs with her doubles partner Allison Howell.
“I will definitely miss the people the most,” said Woo after her final match. “The team is just amazing. Everyone is so encouraging. Our coach is the best. He makes me smile and makes all of us laugh and we always know he’s there to cheer us on and give us advice.”
Saugus High School
The Saugus Centurions finished fourth place in the Foothill League with a league record of 6-6 (10-7) overall and were the fourth and final team to play in the playoffs. Their playoff ended in the first round after a 14-4 loss to Woodrow Wilson
“I feel this season went well for us. We had a stellar preseason,” said head coach Bailey Sindle. “We went toe-to-toe with West Ranch and almost beat them, twice. I don’t remember the last time Saugus came close to that magnitude of a win. This season, even more so than last year, showed me that the league is changing. I am losing eight seniors this year, so next year my team will almost be completely brand new. I think we will have the same fun, competitive dynamic, but represented through new playing styles and personalities.”
The Centurions will be without their senior duo Brianna Cervantes and Chloe Hong next season, who led the way for them in the playoffs, winning against the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles 6-3 and 6-4.
“Chloe and Bri have been a reliable No. 1 team all season,” said Sindle. “They have helped push doubles and just work so well together. They know where they hit the ball, what shots work when, and just have fun each time they walk on court. They should be proud of the season they’ve had.”
Canyon, Golden Valley and Castaic High School
The Golden Valley Grizzlies finished fifth in the league with 4-8 league record (8-9 overall), the Canyon Cowboys finished sixth with a league record of 2-10 (4-11-1 overall) and the Castaic Coyotes remained winless on the season, finishing seventh in the Foothill League. Coaches of those teams were unable to be reached for comments as of the publication of this story.