Valencia girls tennis (6-1, 3-0) brought the heat in its Tuesday Foothill League match, beating the home Hart (6-3, 3-1), 15-3.
Vikings’ No. 1 singles Sydney Thay continued her hot streak, sweeping her matches 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0. No. 2 singles Skylar Brathwaite was equally efficient, winning her matches 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0.
Thay knew Hart was also hot entering their matchup. The Vikings’ coach preached the mindset of playing with confidence without underestimating their opponent, who just took down West Ranch.
“I wasn’t surprised by too much from today’s match,” said Valencia head coach Darrell Peries. “Both teams were undefeated in league going into the match, and CIF has Hart ranked in the top 10 in Division 2. Although the score was 15-3, there were quite a few sets that could have gone either way with a bunch of 6-4 sets and a 7-5. I think it’s important to respect every opponent and prepare and practice well for them.”
Valencia’s No. 1 pair of Alexis Kuncar and Estrella Segura also dominated on the net, winning their matches 6-4, 6-1 and 6-3.
Valencia No. 2 doubles Pavani Katakam and Sivan Garteiz finished victorious in long matches all day, finishing 6-3, 6-3 and 6-3.
The doubles matches for the most part went long and could’ve gone either way, but the Vikings would prevail in eight of the nine matches.
The first round of doubles showed a strong fight from Hart as the Indians went down 4-6, 3-6 and 5-7.
Hart knew it was close and fought hard throughout its matches.
The Indians got two of their wins when No. 1 singles Mia Shields and No. 2 Bella Galoostian each defeated Valencia No. 3 Melissa Arakelyan 6-2.
Hart No. 1 doubles duo Teagan Heinze and Em Porter also had nothing but marathon matches, finishing the day 4-6, 3-6 and 6-3.
“Teagan Heinze and Em Porter have been an incredible doubles team,” said Indians head coach Allan Hardbarger. “Teagan is a senior captain with a very calming presence, and Em brings a lot of passion onto the court. I think that they will be one of the top doubles teams in the league by the end of the season.”
Most of the Indians’ doubles played double-back, a defensive effort to keep the Vikings’ strong returns at bay.
“Hart had really good hands at the net on the doubles side, which may have caught us off guard a bit,” said Peries. “They got shots back that we are accustomed to finishing.”
Both teams entered the match perfect in league play but the Vikings took round one by a landslide. However, Hardbarger knows his team’s efforts and individual scores show this was a close one.
“Our team has been very resilient all season and the girls really pick each other up even when they are not playing their best,” said Hardbarger. “I believe that we will bounce back from this loss, and we will have a strong second half of the season.”
Thay, a senior, has been a force all season for Valencia. Thay’s strong all-around game has put pressure on opponents to be perfect because she can beat them in different ways.
“There have been a lot of great tennis players that have come out of Valencia over the years,” said Peries. “In my opinion, when Sydney is finished with her high school career, she’ll be one of the best to come out of this valley. She has a tremendous work ethic, mental strength and competitive drive.”
Peries has quite the one-two punch with Thay and Brathwaite, citing the latter as an intelligent player with a complete game.
The two, along with the entire team. are all business when on the court but have a great connection off the courts as well.
“It’s always like a family on this team,” said Thay. “It’s always a lot of fun but we share the same goal of wanting to win league and do well in CIF. Motivation-wise, we’re on the same page and having incredible fun.”
Valencia was to host West Ranch Wednesday before heading to the Point Loma Tennis Invitational this weekend. Hart will remain home to host Saugus on Friday.