Cate Dominates Prep School Tournament

IMG_20180928_153851_1Cate Girls’ Tennis was utterly dominant over the weekend against Stevenson (Pebble Beach) and the Webb School.

The tournament, hosted at the Cate Mesa, brought the three prep school programs together for a round-robin format tournament. The Nor Cal high school format was used, meaning each team fielded four singles players and three doubles teams in the head-to-head matches. Matches were played best-of-three sets, with a 10-point tie-breaker to decide the third set. Continue reading

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Cate Wins First Three League Matches

IMG_7290Cate Girls’ Tennis has been very busy over the last week, with more to come this weekend. Here’s a look at what’s been going on in league play, ahead of this weekend’s Cate-hosted, prep-school tournament: Continue reading

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Cate Girls’ Tennis Opens Season 3-0

IMG_6606Cate Varsity Tennis had to be off-and-running very quickly this year, with the first match of the season coming with just four days of practice. Despite the early start, the girls came through with a victory against Rio Mesa High School and then followed that up with a win over Santa Barbara High School before outings week.

Returning from outings week can always be tricky and the 10-day break was apparent in the first days of practice. Still, when match-time came last Friday against Carpinteria High School, the Cate program was ready to take care of business.

Match Recaps

Cate @ Rio Mesa, 11-7 Win

The singles lineup was led by junior Grace Fuss, who battled fiercely with the higher-ranked Jupneet Singh of Rio Mesa, before going on to win her other two sets on the day.

Freshman Aminah Hill also impressed in her team debut, winning two sets as well. Senior Sydney Burton added a win in two sets-of-play before being substituted in the final round.

In doubles, Cate could count on the experience of two-time Tri-Valley League Doubles Runner-Up Sarah Polowczak, who paired with standout sophomore Fritze Mayer for two convincing victories. The pair were substituted in the third round-of-play, yielding the court to Mia Foster and Tali Nam, who picked up a nice 7-5 victory.

Seniors Kate Tunnell and Jennifer Soh also came out strong in their season debut, winning their first two sets, before dropping a closely contested set with the Rio Mesa #1 team in the third round.

Cate v. Santa Barbara, 10-8 Win

For the second year in-a-row Cate girls tennis has overcome Santa Barbara High, a school with 10x its enrollment, to validate their position as one of the top teams in Santa Barbara County.

Cate was led by junior Grace Fuss, who looked untroubled in three quick victories on the day. Senior Sydney Burton added two wins and freshman Aminah Hill added another, giving Cate a 6-3 advantage in singles play.

In doubles, the match was more even, with senior/sophomore combo Sarah Polowczak and Fritze Mayer moving to 5-0 on the season with a sweep of their three rounds. Wins were harder to come by at the #2 and #3 positions, with seniors Jennifer Soh and Kate Tunnell earning a single, but decisive win in the final round.

Coach’s Comments: “I’m very pleased with the match today. It was competitive, particularly in doubles, and we came out with another win against a large public school. Given that we’re only a week-and-a-half into practicing together, to be 2-0 going into Outings Week is awesome.

Santa Barbara may not be the powerhouse they once were, but they’ve got what is clearly a nice group of girls who are eager to maximize their potential as tennis players. That’s exactly what we do here at Cate so it’s always a pleasure to play like-minded programs.”

Cate v. Carpinteria, 14-4 Win

In a comprehensive decision in the Carpinteria cross-town rivalry, wins were spread evenly between singles and doubles, with Cate earning 7-of-9 sets in each half of the scoresheet.

The home team earned sweeps at the #1 and #2 singles positions from juniors Grace Fuss and Carol Cai. Cai is active in match-play for the first time this season after an off-season shoulder surgery, but is already showing signs of the form that saw her finish amongst the top-16 doubles teams in CIF-Southern Section last year.

Senior Kate Tunnell, normally a staple of the Cate doubles lineup added a win, defeating the Carpinteria #2 singles player 6-2 in the second round-of-play.

In doubles, Sarah Polowczak and Fritze Mayer remain undefeated on the season, winning their sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-0. Pairings Jennifer Soh/Madeline Vanica and Yuki Kobayashi/Mia Foster both added two sets to the Cate tally.

Cate is now 3-0, while Carpinteria moves to 7-4.

What’s Up Next?

Cate begins Tri-Valley League play at the Thacher School next Thursday at 3:15pm. Expect more of these match recap posts as well as other tennis content in the near future!

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Laguna Blanca Surges to CIF Quarterfinals

ORG_DSC00096Laguna Blanca advanced to the CIF D4 Playoffs Quarterfinal Round for the second consecutive year with a 13-5 victory over rival Rio Mesa of Oxnard. The teams have played each other in each of the last five seasons, with every match decided 10-8 or 9-9, including a 10-8 win for Laguna earlier this season.

How it Happened

Rio Mesa relied on their nationally-ranked top player Andy Hess to put the first set on the board, though Alex Furukawa gave Hess a strong challenge in the second half of the set. After going down 0-3 in the first five minutes of play, Furukawa began to find his rhythm, taking two games and creating a number of opportunities for himself through aggressive play.

Laguna’s top doubles pairing, seniors Conor Scheinberg and Jason Barnick began the match at #3 doubles, making a quick response to Hess’s 6-2 win with a 6-0 win of their own.

At the end of round one, Laguna took a 4-2 lead on the back of a tie-break win from senior Kelvin Chen and freshman Ryan Purkait, who fought back from a 2-4 deficit. “I’m just so thankful to have all my teammates standing there and cheering for us,” said the senior at the end of the match. In what was a very tight set, Chen and Purkait came through at all the critical moments, buoyed by the support of their teammates.

Victor Liu (pictured above) had a stand-out performance on the day, with the senior taking two-of-three sets and beating two players he had lost two earlier in the season. After his victory over Rio #2 Andrew Diaz, Laguna Blanca continued to roll, finishing the second round-of-play with an 8-4 lead.

In the final round, only Rio’s Andy Hess was able to take set from the Owls. Despite having a solid lead, Laguna continued to compete at a high level, not only to ensure victory, but to practice strategies that might be useful down the line.

Scheinberg and Barnick completed a sweep of their three sets, avenging a 4-6 loss against the #1 Rio combo with a 6-3 victory. After trailing 0-2 earlier, the veteran Owls rallied and looked dominant, winning six of the next seven games. This match appeared to be a turning point for the seniors, who had struggled against opponent #1 teams throughout the season.

Coach’s Notes

I’m so proud of the way my guys competed today. This was our best performance of the season and it came against a tough opponent at an important time. We’ve been on the cusp of reaching another level for most of the season and today we found that extra level.

The difference was the way we supported each other, which I think led to more engagement. This was the first match that really felt like full-on playoff intensity from all our guys. All ten of our guys were totally committed on the court and they got great energy from the rest of the team looking on.

We’re looking forward to another CIF Quarterfinals appearance on Monday and hoping to take it a step further.

What’s Next?

Laguna Blanca will play away against the #4-seeded Laguna Beach at 3pm on Monday.

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Laguna Take CIF 1st Round Win in Desert Heat

As the hills parted and Laguna Blanca School vans descended into the Antelope Valley, temperatures touched triple digits on the dash display. Intermittent gusts of wind would provide an occasional break from the blistering heat, but came with their own complications, as tennis is never easy in the wind.

Laguna Blanca @ Quartz Hill, 11-7 Win

The Owls jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the match, but four of those five sets were decided by two games or less. The momentum shifted significantly, with Quartz Hill taking five of the next seven sets to make it 7-5 Laguna after two rounds-of-play.

In the third, Conor Scheinberg and Jason Barnick took their set, with Kevin Khodabandehlou and third-round substitute John-Henry Schulz also finishing with a win just seconds later. Alex Furukawa won the match-clinching 10th set soon after, while Kai Nakamura added another win for good measure.

Coach’s Notes

I’m very pleased with the way my top singles and doubles positions took care of business today. Overall, it was an uneven performance for us, with lots of good runs mixed in with too many lapses, so to get sweeps at the #1 position in singles and doubles was huge.

What’s Next in the Playoffs

Laguna will play at home on Friday at 3pm against Rio Mesa, a team they narrowly beat during the regular season (10-8). Rio and Laguna are two of five teams from the Santa Barbara/Ventura County Area still alive in the CIF D4 Round-of-16, with Carpinteria, Nordhoff, and Santa Ynez also winning yesterday. Santa Ynez would be the likely next opponent should Laguna Blanca win on Friday.

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Catching Up with the Owls at Playoff Time

ORG_DSC00093It’s been over a month since the last update on Laguna Blanca’s season. In the meantime, the Owls went 9-1 to finish the regular season 14-2, garnering the #5-seed for CIF D4. It is their 5th consecutive season ranking amongst the top-10 teams in the division.

CIF Wildcard Round: Laguna Blanca v. Lompoc High, 17-1 Win

As part of being a freelance team, despite being seeded within the playoff tournament draw, Laguna Blanca needed to play in the Tuesday Wildcard Round. The match, played at home against Lompoc High School, was a show of force for the Owls, who dropped just one set and spread the wins amongst 13 players.

Alex Furukawa (pictured above), who has played #1 singles since early in the season, led the team with 6-0, 6-1 victories before being substituted out. Victor Liu also won two rounds before subbing out, while sophomore Kai Nakamura played all three rounds for easy victories, dropping just three games along the way.

In doubles, the senior combo of Conor Scheinberg/Jason Barnick and senior/freshman pairing of Kelvin Chen/Ryan Purkait defeated Lompoc’s #1 team, with Chen and Purkait staying in all three rounds to complete a sweep on the day.

Sophomore Kevin Khodabandehlou and freshman Nic Richmond combined for the first time this season to win two-of-three, with a 6-4, 6-0, 2-6 line on the day. Sophomore John-Henry Schulz played his best doubles of the season to win both of his sets on the day, partnering with Barnick in the second round and junior Kovid Mishra in the final round-of-play.

Coaches’ Notes

This win marks 100 since I took over as head coach of the Laguna Blanca tennis team in 2010. In looking back at the Laguna Blanca Team History page, I learned that the six seniors on this team have achieved a remarkable 52-12 record in regular-season play, and now sit at 5-2 in the playoff competition.

What’s ahead for the Owls in this year’s CIF Playoffs

Laguna will travel to Quartz Hill in Lancaster for the CIF First Round, with the match beginning at 3pm on Wednesday, May 9th. The forecast calls for a high of 95 degrees, but the Owls appear ready to take on any challenge.

A win tomorrow will likely result in a rematch with one of Laguna’s top rivals over the years in Rio Mesa High School, a match that would be played at home in Hope Ranch.

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Owls Head to Spring Break 5-1, #4 Seed

Laguna Blanca faced a tough schedule with two consecutive long-drive, away matches followed by a Division 2 opponent, but came through the stretch with three important victories. Continue reading

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