Winter Sabbatical Announcement

Dear Thorpe Tennis Community,

I want to let you know that I’ll be taking a “sabbatical” from Thorpe Tennis this winter to focus on other projects. I plan to be away from November 15th until the first week of February (with a few exceptions listed below).

As some of you already know, I’ve got a growing vacation rental business called Casas Thorpe. The project is currently composed of one house here in Santa Barbara and two houses in Merida, Mexico. Later this month, I’ll be adding two more Merida properties to my portfolio for a total of 14 bedrooms under management across five properties. 

The early months are crucial for new properties and require my physical presence for redesign and prep work for the Airbnb market. Last summer when I added two properties to the portfolio while trying to maintain my teaching schedule in SB it was truly exhausting! Working 16 hours-a-day is not what most people do when visiting Mexico, but that’s what I did several times in order to be back here teaching with some regularity.

In addition, I am looking to expand to other markets and I have a personal life-goal to improve my Spanish to reach a conversational level. I feel that the rainy months, holidays, and days with the least light are the right time to be away from SB for an extended period and so I ask for your understanding.

After 11 years of being a 7-days-a-week tennis coach and taking breaks basically only when my students did, the 6-week forced layoff I experienced at the beginning of COVID reminded me that I should be intentional with my time and energy when I can control it. Now, a year-and-a-half later, I am continuing to build my ideal life.

What I am definitely not doing is signaling the coming end to my tennis coaching in Santa Barbara because I consider Thorpe Tennis and all of you wonderful people a crucial part of that ideal life. I gave my 20’s and early 30’s to this, but it has given me even more. I love my students. I love my high school teams. I love teaching. I love being part of the growth of other people and being in service to others is a key tenet of my personal ethos.

With that in mind, although I’ll be based in Mexico this winter, I will come back for several short periods to maintain continuity. The dates I’ve already set and for which you may book lessons whenever you’re ready are: November 27-December 1 and January 14-17 (I may add one more period between those two). In particular, I plan to host my traditional Thanksgiving Weekend Group Session on Saturday, November 27th, so mark your calendars!

Warm Regards,

TT

Cate Girls Fall 6-12 to Windward in D3 Playoffs

Cate Girls’ Tennis was dealt a tough draw in this year’s CIF Division 3 Playoffs, but battled gamely throughout the day.

Windward was seeded #8 in the division, but finished third in their league behind Campbell Hall (#2 seed in CIF D2) and Brentwood (D1 playoff team). They also took a win earlier this season against The Geffen School (#2 seed in D4).

In the end, Cate was unable to overcome the challenge from visiting Windward, dropping a 6-12 contest that also marks the end of the season for the Rams.

How it happened

Round 1 perhaps showed the difference in experience between a Windward team that had consistently faced elite-level opponents and a Cate team that played only two close matches on the season. Cate fell behind on every court in the opening minutes of the match and by the time the home team started to find their footing, they faced a significant deficit to battle back. Sophomore Frances Davis brought in the lone win of the first round in the sixth set, with her 6-3 victory at #3 singles.

As the match went on, Cate continued to close the gap in performance, with senior Aminah Hill taking a 6-2 victory in the second round in singles and all three doubles matches going to 3-3 simultaneously at one point in the round. In the end, Cate was only able to add one more set in Round 2, with senior Emily May and junior Ella Chang recording a 6-3 win over the Windward #2 team.

Round three was the most balanced on the day, with Cate and Windward trading set wins back and forth. Senior Julianna Forry and junior Ellie Tunnell led with a 6-2 win over the #1 doubles team, while sophomore Alyna Takahashi rattled off five consecutive points from 0-40 down in the deciding game of her 6-4 set win against the Windward #3. After Hill dropped a tight 5-7 tie-breaker to the #2, senior Ashi Kamra and freshman Colette Chang were the final match of the season for Cate tennis.

Kamra and Chang, who recently earned Tri-Valley League First-Team Doubles honors in the league tournament, fell behind 1-4 in the set. However, the pair, rallied, refusing to surrender the final match of the season, which would also be Kamra’s last for the Rams. The duo responded with three quick games to level the set at 4-4, before a more even back-and-forth ensued. In the end, Kamra and Chang would not be denied, taking a 7-5 set-win against the Windward #2 team and ending the season on a happy note.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

We lost. It’s a bummer. It would have been nice to meet such a strong opponent as Windward a bit later in the draw, but you’d be totally mistaken to think we didn’t enjoy every minute of the match today.

What I witnessed was Cate Girls’ Tennis battling it out to the bitter end together. Our team did a phenomenal job of supporting each other, giving everything and using all we’d been learning across the season to the maximum of what we had to offer on the day. That’s what this is about.

Every starter put a win on the scoreboard today, but more importantly, every member of this team got to be part of something very special: a real TEAM. It was a total honor to be the coach that got to witness it all season long.

Cate Finishes Regular Season 8-2, 7-1 in League

Cate Girls’ Tennis split a pair of matches on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, dropping a 14-4 decision against San Marcos before rallying to a 17-1 victory over St. Bonaventure on Senior Day.

Cate played solidly in the first round against 14-0 San Marcos High School, with the match hanging at 2-3 with a tie-breaker under way at #3 doubles. In the end, the partnership of Julianna Forry and Ellie Tunnell wasn’t quite enough to overcome a stacked #3 San Marcos team, dropping the tie-breaker 6-8.

The trend of closer sets going in San Marcos’ favor continued in the remaining two rounds, with Cate dropping 4 more sets that went 4-6 or 5-7, managing to only snag two more set-wins (both in the second round). The top performer on the day was senior captain Aminah Hill, who picked up two wins and played a solid 3-6 set against Natasha Gill, the top San Marcos player.

The St. Bonaventure match was a different affair altogether, with a total of 16 Cate students (including four JV players) participating in the 17-1 victory. Junior Ellie Tunnell went 3-0 on the day, as did sophomore Sophie Alijani, as the only two Cate students to play all three rounds.

Senior captains Aminah Hill and Emily May won their doubles matches 6-0, 6-0, while senior Ashi Kamra took Hill’s place at #1 singles and went 6-1, 6-1 on the day. The fourth Cate senior, Julianna Forry, won her lone set on the day playing at #2 doubles with Alijani by a 6-2 score.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

The St. Bonny match was a real joy to participate in, with so many parents around for parents’ weekend and so many of our girls able to be involved in the match. It’s always fun to switch up the lineup, and the truth is, the way we practice and learn cohesive strategy (particularly in doubles), the new roles tend to come easily to the girls. I’m also happy to see that our top JV girls have improved this season and hopefully one or two of them will reach the next level and join us on varsity next season.

As far as the San Marcos match goes, I feel that match was just what we needed as we turn our attention towards the high level competition of individuals and team playoffs. San Marcos the #5-seeded team in D2, so I see that team as equivalent to the best we could potentially face in our D3 playoffs next week.

I have seen time and time again at Cate that when these girls are challenged and take a tough loss, they take the experience well and are better the next time. For example, we turned a 5-13 loss against Foothill Tech earlier this season into an 11-7 win just a few weeks later.

Going farther back, we moved from D4 to D2 in 2014 after a CIF QF appearance, and struggled with the higher level in the playoffs the following season. However, in 2016 and 2017 we rallied, reaching the CIF D2 QF’s and earning our spot amongst the top teams in California in D1 for 2018-2020.

As I try to tell my teams every year, the latin root of the word competition means “to seek together.” This means the goal of competition is to push your opponent to their best and have them do the same for you, which results in everyone rising to their full potential. When you take this approach, it’s hard to be disappointed in a hard-fought loss like our match against San Marcos, because we earned ourselves access to that higher potential level for the future.

What’s next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate fields two singles players and two doubles teams in the Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament today at Thacher School. Aminah Hill and Alyna Takahashi enter the draw as #3 and #4 seeds, respectively. In doubles Emily May/Ella Chang are the #2 seeds, while Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang enter the draw at #3.

Cate Defeats Laguna, Thacher 14-4 in Tri-Valley League Play

Cate has moved to 7-1 on the season (6-1 in league play) after dominant second-round performances against Laguna Blanca and Thacher.

How it Happened:

Cate took a 14-4 win in Hope Ranch last Thursday on strength-in-depth. Senior Aminah Hill was unable to repeat her upset victory over Laguna sophomore Mina Yazadhiev, but all three Cate singles players made quick work of the Laguna #2 and #3 positions.

In doubles, Laguna took 8 sets out of 9, including an impressive sweep from #3’s Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani (6-3, 6-3, 6-3). Emily May and Ella Change also swept on the day.

Earlier today, Cate recorded another 14-4 win, this time against the Toads from Thacher School playing on the Cate Mesa.

The win was spearheaded by a 2-0 day from Aminah Hill and Frances Davis in singles, while sophomore Alyna Takahashi moved into the doubles lineup to go 2-0 on the day.

In the second round, she partnered with junior Ellie Tunnell to defeat the Thacher #1 team, which was actually their top two singles players stacked into doubles. The successful partnership may prove useful tomorrow against visiting San Marcos High, a team that typically fields a strong singles lineup.

Cate has often had its most competitive and exciting match of the season against the large Santa Barbara public school. Despite San Marcos having nearly 10-times the student body, Cate had consistently held its own and sometimes defeated the top Santa Barbara County team, including as recently as 2019.

In that year, Cate went on to finish the season with a sweep of all three major Santa Barbara public schools en-route to a CIF D1 appearance. This year, Cate will be competing in CIF Division 3, with a strong performance in tomorrow’s match suggesting the likelihood of a deep playoff run in a few weeks time.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I have been delighted to see different players stepping up in each match. For example, Alyna and Ellie taking down that stacked Thacher doubles team. We also brought up four JV players today and they all came through with wins.

Kate Ragatz was particularly impressive today, taking down the Thacher #3 in a tight 7-5 set in what was her very first varsity match. That was the last match on-court and it would be easy for a freshman to let nerves play the deciding factor, but she took her opportunity to play varsity and ran with it!

Cate Moves into 1st Place in Tri-Valley with 11-7 Win over Foothill

Cate Girls’ Tennis went 2-0 this week, with a dominant 18-0 performance on Tuesday at St. Bonaventure leading into an 11-7 victory over league rival Foothill Tech today. Cate now stands at 5-1 on the season and holds the top spot in the Tri-Valley League standings with just 3 more matches on the league calendar.

Cate @ St. Bonaventure: 18-0 Win

Cate was unblemished in it’s Tuesday match at Ventura College, completing the first round of league play with an 18-0 victory over the Seraphs.

In singles play, Aminah Hill went 2-0 before giving way to Caroline Batchelder, who took a nice 6-3 victory in the third round. Alyna Takahashi and Nikita Nautiyal were both 3-0 on the day.

In doubles, senior/freshman combo Ashi Kamra and Colette Chang moved to 8-0 on the season, while Ella Chang/Ellie Tunnell and Julianna Forry/Sophie Alijani also went undefeated in three rounds-of-play.

Cate v. Foothill Tech: 11-7 Win

In the second match of the week, Cate avenged their only loss of the season with an 11-7 victory that was unequivocally the best performance of the year thus far.

Cate’s #1 singles and doubles led the charge, with senior Aminah Hill taking a 6-3 victory over her previously undefeated opponent and Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang putting in a dominant 6-1 showing in doubles.

Kamra and Chang moved to 11-0 on the season and are the only undefeated team in the Tri-Valley League, which puts them in poll position to claim the league individuals title in doubles.

Aminah Hill finished the day 2-1, defeating the Foothill #1 and #2 players, Frances and Anna English, only dropping a tight 4-7 tie-breaker to Kira Branson after going down 0-3 to start that round.

Alyna Takahashi also went 2-1 in singles for Cate, taking a 6-4 victory over the #2 and then benefitting from the work Hill had done to wear Branson down in the second round to take a 6-1 victory in the third.

Senior Julianna Forry went 0-3 on the day, but had, perhaps, her best performance ever at Cate, taking valuable games and wearing down the Foothill singles players in what was her first singles match appearance in years.

The partnerships of Emily May/Ella Chang and Ellie Tunnell/Frances Davis both went 2-1 on the day and nearly pulled off sweeps, with both teams losing in the final round after the match had already been decided.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

These are the matches that keep me coming back after 13 seasons. High school coaching gigs are not well-paid, they’re not lauded, and they come with significant commitments of time and energy. But I love it!

The reward, at least for me, is almost entirely in seeing my players grow and reach their potential. This was one of the most enjoyable matches I’ve coached in 25 seasons of high school tennis, between two very successful teams.

This group of girls is extremely coachable and determined. They are a joy to work with every day and I was very disappointed for them after our first match against Foothill, because I knew they didn’t show their best. We worked really hard in practice and in our matches over the last two weeks to be ready for this re-match, and I’m delighted that the girls’ got the result they deserved.

Today, this team showed its full potential while maintaining the same level of class and sportsmanship that has always characterized Cate Girls’ Tennis.

What’s next for Cate Girls’ Tennis:

Cate plays league opponent Laguna Blanca next Tuesday in Hope Ranch in the only match of the coming week. The San Marcos match previously scheduled for October 15th has been moved to October 20th.

Cate Routs Rival Thacher 17-1

In the battle of the west coast’s elite boarding schools, Cate Girls’ Tennis won handily, dropping just a single tie-break set.

How it happened

Cate came out firing in the first round-of-play, with quick wins on all courts.

In singles, senior Aminah Hill and sophomore Alyna Takahashi continued their strong play, notching 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 victories respectively.

Frances Davis, a sophomore transfer from France, made her season debut with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 showing at the #3 spot.

In doubles, Cate finished the day 9-0, with #2 and #3 doubles pairings Emily May/Ella Chang and Julianna Forry/Ellie Tunnell each going 3-0.

Cate #1’s Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang moved to 5-0 on the season with 6-1, 6-3 set wins before sophomores Sophie Alijani and Caroline Batchelder finished the line with a 6-3 win in the final round.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Thacher was a bit short-handed today, but we always relish the chance to compete against them on their home turf. Per team tradition, we follow it up with a trip to Boccali’s for some pizza and their famous strawberry shortcake, so we are always motivated to perform well out in Ojai.

While everyone played well today, honestly, I’m most proud of the one set we lost. More specifically, I’m proud of Nikita Nautiyal, who battled back from 1-4 down in the final match of the day to force a tie-breaker.

It would have been easy to let that one slip away once she got down, but she chose to work even harder to get back into the match instead. The support from her teammates through the end of the match was phenomenal as well.

These are the sorts of things that let a coach know the team is on the right track. Although we lost an early-season match to Foothill Tech, we still have ambition to reclaim the Tri-Valley League Title and we’re also hoping to make a deep playoff run this year in CIF Division 3.

What’s next for Cate?

Cate plays next on Tuesday, October 5th against St Bonaventure before the big rematch with last year’s league champions in Foothill Tech. This time, the match will be at Cate (October 7th) and the girls will be ready!

Cate Girls’ Split First Week of League Matches

Cate Girls’ Tennis opened the Tri-Valley League season with a 5-13 loss against last year’s league champions (Foothill Tech), but rallied gamely for a 15-3 win over previously undefeated Laguna Blanca two days later.

Tuesday, September 21: Foothill Tech d. Cate 13-5

In the first round of play, Cate managed to win just one set as the girls returned to matchplay for the first time in four weeks. Playing at #3 doubles, senior Julianna Forry and junior Nikita Nautiyal cruised to a 6-2 win, while #1 doubles lost a 7-9 tie-breaker and #2 doubles lost a tight 5-7 set.

It was a struggle in singles as well for the Rams, as Foothill Tech fielded three tournament-level players and more recent match-play. In fact, it was not until the final singles match on-court that Cate drew blood in singles, with new sophomore Alyna Takahashi taking her first win of the season against the Foothill #2, Anna English.

The later rounds proved better for Cate doubles as well, with seniors Emily May and Ashi Kamra rallying for 6-2, 6-4 wins and sisters Ella and Colette Chang also picking up a win over the Foothill Tech #3 team.

Thursday, September 23: Cate d. Laguna Blanca 15-3

In a complete reversal to Tuesday’s match, Cate came out firing against a 5-0 Laguna Blanca team, sweeping the first six sets-of-play.

In the first round, senior Aminah Hill struck a devastating blow to Laguna’s chances, defeating their ace #1 singles player Mina Yazadhiev 6-3. Hill finished 3-0 on the day, while junior Ellie Tunnell and sophomore Alyna Takahashi collected two wins each in singles play.

In doubles action, Cate’s #1 pairing Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang won three convincing sets (6-1, 6-3, 6-0), while Emily May/Ella Chang also swept (7-6, 6-3, 6-0). Julianna Forry went 1-1 with partner Nikita Nautiyal in the first two rounds, before partnering with Sophie Alijani to take an impressive 6-1 victory over the Laguna #1 team in the final round-of-play.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

While we had practiced well after outings week, it was clear on Tuesday that we lacked some match-readiness. I think had we managed to win those tight doubles sets in the first round to go 3-3 instead of 1-5, the match might have ended differently.

That being said, we improved markedly in our match on Thursday against Laguna Blanca and I think we’re on-track to give Foothill Tech a run for their money in our next meeting. Throughout both matches, I saw lots of good teamwork and support, and coupling that with the progression of our match-play as we get deeper into the season will yield dividends.

Also, this year’s team has shown some excellent marketing skills! Drawing attention to our home match against Laguna by wearing blazers to school was a genius move, so it’s clear we’ve got some creative intelligence to work with should we need it later in the season.

What’s next for Cate Tennis?

Cate will travel away to Thacher on Thursday, September 30th for the classic Santa Barbara Area boarding school rivalry!

Cate Girls’ Tennis Back to Winning Ways with 16-2 Romp

Despite just three days of practice, Cate Girls’ Tennis got off to a winning start today against Rio Mesa High School.

How it happened

The first round was an almost blemishless performance, with Cate dropping just five games en-route to a 6-0 lead in the match. Caroline Batchelder took the late call-up when another player had to pull out of the match and took an impressive 6-0 victory at #3 singles. In doubles action, after some lineup shuffling, freshman Colette Chang partnered with her older sister Ella took take an equally convincing 6-0 victory at #1 doubles.

It was more of the same at the match continued, with Cate rolling 5-1 in rounds two and three.

Hard-hitting #1 singles player Aminah Hill recorded an elusive golden set in the second round, winning 24 consecutive points. Ellie Tunnell had a battle in the first round, but was too much for the Rio Mesa #2 and #3 players, taking her sets 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 on the day.

In doubles, the Chang sisters completed the sweep on the day, while partners Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit and Nikita Nautiyal/Sophie Alijani also finished the day 3-0.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

I was really pleased with the way the girls responded to some last minute lineup changes and just to playing a match on the 4th day of the season. We practiced well so far this week, so I had a feeling we’d come out firing, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to struggle with some early-season nerves. Best of all, I noticed everyone on the team applying the things we worked on in practice. That’s a very strong sign for what’s to come this season.

What’s next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate will have a long interlude following opening of the academic year next week and outings trips, but will return to match-play on September 17 against league opponent Providence High School. The match will be played on Cate Mesa at 3:15pm.

Laguna Doubles Teams Finish 3rd and 4th in TVL League Individuals

After coming in with the #1 and #4 seeds in the doubles draw of the Tri-Valley League Individuals tournament, the Owls managed to snag third and fourth this week to end the 2021 season.

TVL Individuals, Early Rounds

Laguna Blanca School fielded the 11-1 senior doubles team of Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond as the #1 seed in the tournament. As such, they were the last doubles team to take the courts on what was an unusually mild May day in Ojai, where Villanova played host.

Before Purkait and Richmond got to start their tournament, freshman/junior combo Keanu Nakamura/Ben Rodgers opened play as the #4 seed (5-1 in league play). Their seeding resulted in a very tough first-round match-up against Cate #3 singles player Will Vanica and freshman standout doubles player Ethan Bloom.

The fourth-seeded Owls team came through with a decisive 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Cate team, leading the entire match. This set up a semifinal clash with the only undefeated team in the draw, Foothill Tech’s #1 doubles team. Meanwhile, Laguna Blanca’s singles entrants Kai Suzuki and Aden Meisel fought gamely in the play-in round, but were unable to defeat their opponents in 8-game pro-sets.

Meisel got off to a rough start, dropping three games quickly, before changing strategies and taking four of the next nine games to lose 4-8. Suzuki played very well in the early-going, taking a 6-3 lead over Foothill Tech’s James Sokoloski, but the Laguna junior struggled to close the match out and faded to a 6-8 loss.

TVL Individuals, Later Rounds

Purkait and Richmond won their quarterfinal match against the Villanova #1 doubles team 6-4, 6-4, but looked far from their dominant regular-season best. This manifested itself again in their semifinal match against #3-seeded Cate seniors Lucian Prinz and Michael Armstrong, who they had defeated early in the season.

After taking a 5-2 lead in the first set, the Owls senior duo struggled with execution, seeing the Cate team recover for a 7-5 win and go up 5-2 in the second. Purkait and Richmond rallied to 4-5, but could not force the third set from Prinz and Armstrong, who closed the match out with a hold-of-serve.

Nakamura and Rodgers faced a stiff challenge from the top Foothill Tech team, who would go on to become this year’s league champions with a win over Prinz/Armstrong. The team of Pascal Hayward and Eesh Manwani played a very loud and aggressive style, and though the Laguna boys pushed Hayward and Manwani with many excellent points, they eventually fell 6-4, 6-3.

TVL Individuals, Laguna v. Laguna

The proceedings of Day One of the Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament led to a matchup between the two Laguna teams for 3rd place in league and the final All-League First-Team designation.

Played at Furukawa Tennis Gardens on the Laguna Blanca campus, 3rd place match saw a resurgence from Nic Richmond and Ryan Purkait, who reversed a loss from earlier in the week to their younger teammates in practice. The seniors regained their best tennis to defeat Rodgers and Nakamura by a final score of 6-4, 6-1.

The result is Richmond and Purkait picking up All-League First-Team honors for the first time as they move on to college, while Rodgers and Nakamura get their first All-League Second-Team honors. Certainly the younger duo will be in the mix for future Tri-Valley League honors.

Cate Girls Take TVL Doubles Title

Senior Fritze Mayer and junior Emily May defeated the English sisters of Foothill Tech 6-3, 6-0 at the Cate School to land their first league title.

Mayer and May close the season 16-0 and continue a Cate streak of four consecutive Tri-Valley League doubles titles.

While the singles league title remains elusive for the Servons, Cate’s #1 singles player Aminah Hill was absolutely devastating in her 6-0, 6-0 victory today to take third place and earn herself All-League First-Team honors.

Senior Yuki Kobayashi and junior Ashi Kamra recovered from a tough tie-break loss in the first set to take third place in the league doubles draw (6-7, 6-0, 10-3). Kamra earned TVL All-League First -Team honors last season with Mayer, while this is Kobayashi’s first time receiving All-League First-Team honors.

The three victories today end Cate’s COVID-shortened season on a high note and bring momentum for the team going into the 2021 fall season in just a few short months.