An unbelievable regular season of Valencia girls’ tennis came to an end on Thursday.
Not only did the Vikings take another Foothill League title as the undefeated champions, but also the team posted champions and runners ups in both singles and doubles. Valencia displayed its dominance Wednesday and Thursday in the Foothill League preliminaries at the Paseo Club.
Singles champion Sydney Thay finishes her final high school regular season unscathed with a perfect record in league action.
Thay defeated teammate Valencia singles No. 2 Skylar Brathwaite 6-1, 6-2 in the finals match. The two have battled in practice all season but were finally able to play a competitive match.
“[Brathwaite] is a really strong competitor throughout the season, other than one loss, I think she has been beating everybody pretty handily,” said Thay. “She has an incredible game so I did not doubt that I’d see her in the final.”
The singles finals match was immensely tighter than the scores show. Brathwaite and Thay have some of the toughest serves and touches in the league. The match was filled with dozens of long rallies and a ton of deuces.
“It did kind of feel like a practice match,” said Brathwaite. “Knowing we’re both going to CIF kind of lifted the pressure off of my shoulders and she’s just a great friend and a great teammate. So it was a lot of fun playing her and I really enjoyed that.”
Valencia doubles No. 1 Tiffany Recalde and Cami Schoenwetter became the Foothill League champs by defeating teammates Alexis Kuncar and Melissa Arakelyan.
The top Viking pair had a smooth tournament, winning all of their sets but two by at least five. The two posted the doubles record in league but have only been together since about midseason.
“Since we’re like such good friends, we just have such good communication,” said Schoenwetter. “We trust each other with the ball. We’re just good together.”
Schoenwetter and Recalde were pushed but defeated their teammates in the doubles finals 6-1, 1-6 and 10-6. The girls were not too surprised to see an all-Valencia finals with the work they’ve put in and chemistry they possess.
“We just all really worked well together and we got along,” said Recalde. “It’s really thanks to our amazing coach. He made us feel so comfortable being on the team wanting to come to practices.”
Vikings’ coach Darrell Peries is only in year two with the team but has won as many titles.
“We practice two or three hours a day,” said Peries. “We focus on competition and a lot of technique. So, the work that they put in definitely showed today.”
Brathwaite, a junior, won a long match over Golden Valley No. 1 singles Charly Saltz. Brathwaite won the semifinals match 6-3, 6-4.
Saltz finished as the third-place singles player in league, beating out West Ranch No. 1 Abigail Pac. Saltz had a fantastic tournament, which nearly ended in the singles finals match with Thay.
The third-seeded Saltz’s serving, control and slicing led her to victory over Valencia’s Estrella Segura and Canyon’s Dziyana Haiduk.
Thay defeated the fourth-seeded Pac in the semifinals. Valencia’s No. 1 won with scores of 6-1, 6-0.
Kuncar and Arakelyan battled in the semis to make it an all-Valencia final. The Viking pair won the two-hour match over Saugus’ Madison Vianzon and Kelsie Lammens-Ross, 5-7, 7-6, 10-8.
The two-day tournament was filled with grueling battles in just about every round. Castaic’s Linsdey Nguegang and Fernanda Matias upset Hart No. 1 doubles Teagan Heinze and Em Port in the opening round. The Coyote duo won with scores of 7-5, 1-6 and 11-9.
Wildcat duo Carmella DeMarco and Avry Bedrossian played back-to-back wild matches on Wednesday. The West Ranch team came back to win their opener over the Saugus No. 2 team Brooklyn Rappe and Frankie Spandoni with scores of 4-6, 6-3 and 10-3.
The Cats ran into another tough opponent in Valencia’s Pavani Katakam and Sivan Gartez in the second round. DeMarco and Bedrossian won the quarterfinal matchup 6-4, 4-6 and 10-6.
Vianzon and Lammens-Ross fell in the third-place game to Bedrossian and DeMarco, but the Centurion pair are one of the best teams that’ll return to the courts next season.
Clarise Richardi of Hart won the only three-game match on the singles side. Richardi defeated Shaine Salonga of Saugus in the opening round with scores of 6-2, 3-6 and 10-2.
Valencia will now head to team and individual playoffs. Peries just wants to see his team compete regardless of who the team faces.
As for one of Valencia’s best, her final competitive match could be coming up.
“For me I am just working on my college apps hoping to go to a four-year college for academics and leaving tennis behind,” Thay said. “It’s like a good closure, it’s been long 10-plus years but it has been fun for my team. I hope that they win next year; they have all the talent to do so and they have the coaching to do so. So, I hope that they succeed next year.”
The Vikings’ season was still one to remember. Certain teams and players may have been mixed up throughout the season but they finished the season as Foothill League champs.
“We worked really hard throughout the season,” said Thay. “I think in the beginning of the year, it was a little shaky. We didn’t know how the team was going to work out. I know that every team wanted to win this year. We were just strong and I’m very happy with how Valencia has shown out this prelims.”