The Valencia seniors know nothing but winning Foothill League championships as the Vikings won their fourth straight title on Tuesday after a 13-5 win over Golden Valley.
The Vikings tore through league play, only dropping one match on the season. Valencia has a dynamic senior duo in singles players Skylar Brathwaite and Baylee Renfro. Brathwaite finished the league’s runner-up in singles last year and will look to claim the throne for herself next week at the Paseo Club.
The two are part of a talented senior class that has made a difference on and off the court for coach Darrell Peries’ team.
“The senior leadership played quite a role in this year’s success,” Peries wrote in a text message. “Most of our seniors have been on varsity since they were freshman/sophomores, so their mentorship towards the younger ones coming up from JV last year helped give insight as to how competitive the varsity level is.”
The Vikings have also had strong seasons from No. 1 doubles team Cami Schoenwetter and Sivan Garteiz. The Valencia duo have torn through most of their league opponents and were a crucial part of the Vikings’ fourth straight championship.
Schoenwetter is the league’s only returning individual champ, as she won the Foothill League finals in 2022 with former teammate Tiffany Recalde.
Peries also saw tons of growth and solid play from doubles team Izzy Bronstein and Samara Wijesundera. Bronstein is regarded as the most mentally solid on the team while Wijesundera has transitioned smoothly into varsity after being a junior varsity MVP last season.
As strong as the Vikings have been playing, there’s still a little more room to grow in Peries’ eyes.
“I think we’re close to peaking,” Peries wrote. “At this point in the season, it comes down to executing the game plan against our competition. Everyone now understands their strengths and weaknesses much more than when the season started, so we’re able to strategize accurately based on style of play. Our ceiling will depend on how the players are able to compete and continue to work during our practice days.”
Valencia will close out the regular season at the Foothill League preliminaries and finals. Last year, the Valencia team was so strong that both its doubles and singles top two teams reached the championship matches in what turned into an all-Valencia finals.
Peries knows the competition will be stiff and his players will need to play their best to secure individual league titles.
“I think it’s going to take really strong performances from everyone on our team competing in prelims to reach an all-Valencia final again,” Peries wrote. “It’s going to be extremely challenging. There are talented players from other schools that are going to come for the title, so we really have to be at our best mentally and physically going into the tournament.”
Several Vikings have their eyes set on championships at league finals, which also entails a first team all-league selection.
“Most of our players are gunning for a first-team all-league titles this season,” Peries added.
Winning another Foothill League championship as a team and improving every day was the goal the team laid out back in August. Now, with both of those boxes checked, Valencia will look to play its game through the Foothill League tournament and get some last-minute tuning before heading into the postseason in two weeks.
“Lastly, I know our players would like to finish strong in the medal rounds in the prelim tournament,” Peries wrote. “A deep CIF playoff run is the final aspiration.”
The Vikings head to the Paseo Club on Wednesday at 11 a.m. for the opening round of the Foothill League prelims.