Golden Valley Grizzlies girls’ tennis overcame some stifling wind and won its Foothill League home match with the Canyon Cowboys on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies won the match, 14-4, with perfect days from their top two singles players and two doubles teams.
Golden Valley No. 1 singles Charly Saltz is yet to drop a league game this year and nothing changed on Tuesday. Saltz’s big serve and monster backhand were on full display against the Cowboys as she won all three frames, 6-0.
“I felt pretty good today,” Saltz said. “I liked the way I was popping my serve. I felt like I hit some good targets fast. So I’m pretty happy with my performance.”
Saltz was joined by No. 2 singles player Janice Jin, a junior who also finished the day with three wins, going 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1.
Jin has made a big jump since her sophomore season and has been a solid singles player for head coach Josh Stimac.
“Janice has improved a lot since last year,” Stimac wrote in an email. “In particular, her serve is much more potent and consistent. She is a great team co-captain alongside Bella.”
In doubles, Grizzlies No. 1 team Alitzel Ortega and Isabella Arcasetas were dynamic together. The Golden Valley duo finished the day 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0 behind good communication and poise.
“Alitzel and Bella are a great doubles pairing,” Stimac wrote. “They complement each other well, and they are always very positive with each other and the other girls on the team. They’ve shown great poise.”
Saltz has noticed a huge difference with the team this year, citing great energy and talented players as the source.
“I think we’re very energetic at the core,” Saltz said. “We want to win. I’ve noticed our doubles No. 1 has really made a difference. They’ve played really solid off the baseline and then Bella up on the net is killing it. Janice has been playing pretty solid, too.”
Grizzlies No. 3 doubles Nadia Godoy and Erin Rivera also went undefeated on the day, winning their matches 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0.
Canyon is still looking for its first league win of the season after three matches but head coach Dennis Yong has liked what he’s seen so far.
“While there have been no wins yet this season, we are showing the league that the girls have improved and are ready to give their all on the court each match,” Yong wrote in an email.
Yong has talented singles players in Jennica Noche, Zoe Brown and Alaina Ramey. The three all put together numerous rallies against Jin and Saltz, but just fell short on Tuesday. The latter two will also return to the Cowboys next season, signaling a bright future in Canyon Country.
“I am proud of how hard the team has been working,” Yong added. “They spent their off-season training to become stronger and more consistent. They are not afraid to try new things and are willing to work and communicate as a team. What stands out to me is their ability to help and support each other. The more experienced players are guiding and helping the newer members. They are practicing more on their own off-season and after school and it shows. Their strokes and consistency have improved tremendously.”
The Grizzlies are aiming to return to the playoffs for the first time in several years. Stimac may finally have the team to break out of the rut, see some CIF action and perhaps make some noise in the Foothill League along the way.
“For me personally, I want to try to win league and get to CIF,” Saltz said. “I would love for the team to make it to CIF, we barely missed it last year.”
Saltz will be a threat to bring home the singles crown at the Foothill League finals. As a junior, she finished third overall in the league tournament and the team is excited to see her return to the big stage at the Paseo Club.
“Charly is doing amazingly well so far. She’s undefeated,” Stimac wrote. “In the past 12 months she has grown as a player and as a competitor. I’m excited to see what she does this year.”
Golden Valley returns to the court on Tuesday when the team travels to Valencia. Canyon will return home the same day to host Hart. Both matches begin at 3 p.m.
Saltz and the Grizzlies will aim to keep up the momentum but still not forget what the sport is all about.
“I just love our positivity,” Saltz said. “We’re just so positive. We do our best on the court but then when we’re off the court, we just have fun, because there’s more to tennis than just competing. It’s about having fun.”