Cate Doubles Team Continues Remarkable Run in CIF Individuals

Carol Cai, Grace Fuss at CIF Individuals

Cate seniors Grace Fuss and Carol Cai needed just 45 minutes to dispatch their Edison High School opponents in the play-in round of CIF Sectionals down in Seal Beach yesterday afternoon.

The Cate duo was untouchable in their 6-1, 6-0 victory over Zoe Coggins and Kailee You. Coggins is a nationally-ranked senior who has already been signed by D2 Dominican University of San Rafael, California. Her partner is also a nationally-ranked player, making the overwhelming victory all the more impressive.

The victory follows a bye and two straight-set wins for Cai and Fuss in the CIF Regional event, held last week in Carpinteria. The Cate team had been seeded third in that draw and received the Santa Barbara Round Table press luncheon’s “Athlete of the Week” award for their play in the tournament.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Carol has been here before and won in this round (two years ago with her sister Jackie), but to be honest, I’ve never seen either Carol or Grace play so freely on the doubles court. The word is devastating; they were absolutely devastating. You could see the morale of their opponents dropping with every big serve from Grace and every down-the-line forehand winner from Carol. They were also finishing points at net and made very few unforced errors.

What’s important is they didn’t do anything beyond what I’ve known they’re capable of, but it’s more that they put it all together at once and carried that momentum from first point to last. My girls played with confidence and poise today, and if that’s any indication of the future, they are far from done in this CIF Individuals tournament. While the majority of the players remaining in this tournament are either signed or receiving interest from D1 collegiate programs, no team is safe in this draw with the Cate girls still in play.

What’s Next for the Cate Girls?!

The Cate pair will return to Seal Beach Tennis Center on Thursday at 10:30am for the Round-of-16.

Cate Narrowly Defeated by Calabasas in First Round of CIF D1 Playoffs

Cate Girls’ Tennis came tantalizingly close to it’s first CIF Division 1 playoffs win today against visiting Calabasas High School. After two rounds, the match stood at 6-6, but Calabasas rallied to take four sets in the final round and hand the Rams their first loss of the season, 10-8.

Cate got an absolutely dominant performance out of senior team captain Grace Fuss, who defeated her three opponents 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. Two of those wins came against nationally-ranked players, with Lauren Sebastian ranked as high as 452 in the country in 2019 and Ellina Ivanova currently ranked 529 in the country for her class.

Cate came into the match understanding that, with usual #2 singles player Aminah Hill still sidelined by injury, they would have to win the match through the doubles side of the scoresheet. Carol Cai and Mia Foster combined to make a senior pairing at the #3 position and came out red-hot with a 6-2 win. Sophomores Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit continued their winning ways, following up a 17-3 Tri-Valley League record with a 6-3 victory over the Calabasas #2 team.

Junior Fritze Mayer and sophomore Ashi Kamra anchored the doubles lineup, following their run to the TVL doubles tournament semifinals. The pair had a 3-2 lead against the Calabasas #1 team, but ended up falling 4-6 in a very competitive match.

Mayer and Kamra rallied to take a 10-8 tie-break win in the second round to keep the team afloat, while Cai and Foster cruised to a 6-1 victory against the #2 team. Forry and Vongkusolkit stayed close with the Calabasas #1’s throughout their second-round match, but the experienced Calabasas team broke serve and held to finish the set with a 6-3 win.

In the third round of play, Cate got quick wins from Fuss and Mayer/Kamra, but could not add to the win-tally, dropping the remaining sets to come just shy of victory.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

When you look at the players that had an impact on this match, you’ve obviously got to love what the seniors brought to the table, with Grace rolling her three opponents and Carol and Mia taking two solid wins in their first match together this season.

That said, there’s also a lot to be feeling good about with regards to the players we’ll have back next season. We’ve got three sophomores who formed a crucial part of the doubles lineup, where last season one was playing #3 doubles, another was playing JV, and the third wasn’t even playing high school tennis. That’s a big transformation for Ashi, Julianna, and Maesa. Fritze, who’s already been an important part of the team for a few years now also clearly took a step forward this season and is set up to have a stellar senior campaign in 2020.

Even our #2 and #3 singles players, who got shut out today, have exhibited huge growth from the beginning of the season to now. Yuki Kobayashi is getting closer to cracking the tournament-level as a singles player and freshman Ellie Tunnell totally outperformed expectation this season. They had a hard job today but they gave everything and took some games off of some very experienced ranked players.

To sum it up, the score says we lost today, but to me this match was still an expression of the growth of this team from beginning of season to end. None of these girls are the same players they were two and a half months ago. Meanwhile, the constant across a number of seasons now at Cate is that even when we face schools with many multiples our student population, we rise to the occasion and make it a battle. We can take pride in our performance today and that’s what matters the most.

What’s Next for Cate Tennis?

While team tennis is finished for 2019, senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai will play in the CIF Regional Individuals event held at Cate School and Carpinteria High on Monday, November 25th. They hope to improve upon their 3rd-round performance in 2018 and return to CIF Sectionals, where Carol made the Round-of-16 as a sophomore with her sister Jackie in 2017.

Cate’s Fuss, Cai Power to TVL Title Match

The Cate School played host, today, to the annual Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament. It was mixed fortunes for the five schools in the league, with four schools sharing the finals positions, as Cate’s top-2 eschewed singles league glory for a shot at a deep run in CIF Individuals.

In singles, the top two seeds each dominated their opponents with straight-set wins. Top-seed Helena Insua of St. Bonaventure won her quarterfinal round 6-0, 6-0 and followed that up with a 6-0, 6-1 win over #3-seed Jacqueline Kong (Thacher) 6-0, 6-1. 

Insua will face Natalie Cheng (Thacher) in the singles final, after Cheng took both of her matches on the day without dropping a single game. The third place singles match will take place between Yuki Kobayashi (Cate) and Jacqueline Kong.

In doubles, top-seeded Grace Fuss and Carol Cai (Cate) cruised to 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1 victories. The team is comprised of the top-two singles players in the TVL this season, with the intention of the pair going deep into CIF Individuals.

On the other side of the draw, #2-seeded Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra, also of Cate, were narrowly defeated by last year’s third place team of Alyssa McClain and Jolie Seemayer (Foothill Tech). The Foothill Tech team took the match 7-6, 4-6, 10-3 to book their place in the finals against Fuss and Cai.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

On it’s face, today was maybe not the dominant display you’d expect for our team. It’s true that we haven’t lost a league match since 2014, but our league has some very solid players and we made some strategic decisions going into the tournament.

Grace and Carol were just a point or two away from winning their third CIF Regionals match as a doubles team last year, and we felt they have the chance to really do some damage as a doubles team.

That meant Fritze wouldn’t get to play with her normal partner Carol in individuals, but I think Ashi has really stepped up her game this year and they very nearly pulled off the win. That match between our girls and the Foothill Tech girls was a joy to watch. I can’t even be disappointed about the loss because I saw Fritze and Ashi reach their highest level in that match. On our team, that’s the big win and I’m very proud of their performance against a worthy opponent.

In singles, Yuki has made big strides this season and she took a nice win in the quarterfinals. Though she lost in the semifinal, she came off the court smiling and happy with her performance, and she’s still got a chance to take third place in league. 

Mia Foster also got the opportunity to lay it on the line in singles. As a senior who’s spent most of her career playing doubles, I thought she played great, although it didn’t go her way.

In short, every participant from our team got something good out of the tournament today, and some very deserving players from other teams got through and will surely represent our league well in CIF Individuals.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

All TVL Finals and 3rd-Place matches will take place at the Cate School at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 31st. Following the completion of league individuals, Cate will play in the first round of the CIF D1 Team Playoffs the following Wednesday.

Cate Completes 5th Consecutive Unbeaten TVL Season

Cate Girls’ tennis took a 10-0 victory over league opponent Foothill Tech in the heat and wind. The match was delayed due to air quality issues, but was able to be completed as EPA air index ratings improved later in what was one of the hottest and windiest days of the year.

The match marks 42 consecutive wins for Cate in Tri-Valley League play going back to October of 2014. The win also completes a perfect 10-0 season, in which the Rams not only went 7-0 in league play, but also took down larger Santa Barbara County public school SBHS, DPHS, and SMHS.

Cate was led by senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai, who both registered 6-0 sets in the first round. Junior Yuki Kobayashi also delivered with a 6-2 score at the #3 position.

In doubles, the #2 and #3 matches were similarly one-sided, but a battle ensued at the #1 position. Junior/sophomore combo Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra took a 7-6 victory over Foothill’s top singles players Noelle Haywood and Jolie Seemeyer, who were stacked to form a high-level doubles pair. Mayer and Kamra are now 7-0 together on the season and likely to be a high seed in next week’s TVL Individuals tournament.

I thought we played well in the tough conditions today. I was very pleased in particularly, with the way Ashi and Fritze rallied to beat that stacked #1 doubles team. 

They really proved they’re one of the strongest teams in our league and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in individuals. We’ve also got the defending league champions Grace and Carol in there, so we’re definitely looking to make a big push as deep as we can into CIF Individuals in doubles.

The Tri-Valley League tournament is next up for Cate tennis, with match-play beginning at 1:30pm on Cate Mesa.

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Cate Rolls St. Bonny, Takes Two Wins Over Previously Undefeated TVL Singles Player

Cate seniors made the most of their final home game today with a 16-2 victory over St. Bonaventure. The victory was punctuated by two wins over previously undefeated TVL player Helena Insua.

Grace Fuss opened proceedings with a heady display of tactics, mixing slice forehands with devastating down-the-line backhand winners for a 6-3 result. Carol Cai then followed suit with a serving display that saw her take Insua to 6-5 with just one break each, before Cai broke again to take the set 7-5. Insua rallied to beat the third Cate senior, Mia Foster, who went 2-1 on the day.

Thanks to the dual victories, Cate’s pair of senior captains leap-frogged Insua for the top-two singles records in Tri-Valley league play. Fuss is currently 11-1 in league singles play, while Cai is 13-1 in league (9-1 in singles play), while Insua falls to 12-2. Instead of going after the Tri-Valley League Singles Title next week, Fuss and Cai will return to the doubles draw as defending champions, in a bid to make a deep run into CIF Individuals in November.

Junior Madeline Vanica subbed for Fuss after the first round, going 1-1 on the day, while freshman Ellie Tunnell took Cai’s place in the final round, with a 6-0 victory against St. Bonaventure’s #3 player.

In doubles, Cate completed the full nine-set sweep. Junior/sophomore combo Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra won their sets 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 as they begin their push towards Tri-Valley League Individuals. The other Cate pairings of Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit and Yuki Kobayashi/Emily May also went 3-0 on the day.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I was so happy for my seniors today as they competed in their last home match. Mia had a great singles debut, and Grace and Carol got back on terms after losing to Helena in our away match against Bonny earlier this season. 

It’s incredible to think that across these four seasons, these girls have helped, and in many cases led Cate to a 44-3 record in regular season play. They’ve only lost to San Marcos High and to a couple of stacked D1 teams in the playoffs. What they’ve accomplished in their time at Cate is nothing short of spectacular.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

The win mathematically clinches Cate’s 5th consecutive TVL team title, with tomorrow’s match against Foothill Tech the final barrier to a 5th consecutive season without losing a single league match. The match will be played at Ventura College at 3:15pm.

Cate Claims Title “Best Girls’ Tennis Team in Santa Barbara County”

Cate defeated visiting San Marcos High 11-7 today to complete the sweep of Santa Barbara County’s top-three public high school teams (Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos, and San Marcos).

Cate was led by senior captain Grace Fuss, who swept her opponents (6-0, 6-3, 6-0) to move to 19-1 on the season. Cate also got crucial wins from two other seniors, with Carol Cai going 2-1 on the day at #1 doubles and Mia Foster gutting out a 7-5 tie-break set at #3 doubles to go 1-0 on the day.

Cate’s underclassmen also provided key victories, with junior Yuki Kobayashi going 2-1 on the day at #2 singles and sophomore Ashi Kamra going 2-1 at #3 doubles. Sophomore Emily May partnered with Kamra in the final round-of-play to defeat San Marcos’s #1 team and clinch the match, while freshman Ellie Tunnell chipped in a win at #3 singles.

The Cate victory was made all the sweeter coming in front of a home-crowd that was in full-force for Cate School Parents’ Weekend. It also marks the first time Cate has beaten San Marcos since 2014. During that stretch, Cate has gone 12-1, 13-1, 10-1, 13-1 with San Marcos being the lone loss in each of those four regular seasons.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I’m so proud of my girls today. We’ve been working towards this goal since the year before even our seniors had arrived at Cate, and now we’ve got the honor of calling ourselves the best team in Santa Barbara County. I think that’s really something when you consider that the other top teams generally have 10-times the student population to pull from.

This victory is a tribute to effort my girls put into every practice and the tenacity with which they compete. It’s not easy to balance the rigorous schedule at a top boarding school like Cate, and they impress me on a daily basis.

This win and the other big wins we’ve picked up this season are not just for the current girls at Cate, but also a tribute to a gradual build-up that goes all the way back to 2009, when I first got the chance to work with the Cate girls’ tennis program. We were in Division 4 then and here we are in Division 1 now, taking on the top teams in Southern California.

Cate Moves to 7-0 with Second Win Over Rival Thacher in Ojai

Cate Girls’ Tennis won a 10-8 contest over Thacher in Ojai today in what was a battle between the top two schools in the Tri-Valley League.

After defeating Thacher 13-5 earlier in the season, Cate featured a very different lineup in this match, and what is likely for tomorrow’s match against San Marcos.

Carol Cai and Ashi Kamra went 3-0 at #2 doubles while first-year varsity players Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit went 2-1, with their lone loss coming in a tie-break set against the top Thacher pair on the day.

In singles, Grace Fuss recorded three 6-0 victories, while the key victory belonged to freshman Ellie Tunnell. Tunnell, playing at #2 singles for the first time, gutted out an 8-6 tie-break win in the second round that turned out to be critical to the overall victory.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Ellie was awesome today. She’s the only freshman that made varsity and yet here she is picking up a big win for us in a tight match against our league rivals.

The young players deserve a lot of credit for our success this season, with Julianna and Maesa also stepping up for two wins today.

Grace and Carol are our automatic six sets but they’re also our senior captains. It’s good to know we’ve got young guns stepping up to the plate because we’re going to have big shoes to fill next season.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate plays again tomorrow at 3pm on Cate Mesa for a chance to finally lay claim to the title “best team in Santa Barbara County.” Their opponent, San Marcos High, has narrowly defeated them each of the last four seasons.