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.

Cate Alternates Step Up in 13-5 Win over Foothill Tech

Cate girls’ tennis had to do without three key members of the team in today’s Tri-Valley League match, but rallied behind the new lineup to take a 13-5 win.

Freshman Ellie Tunnell, playing for the first time in the singles starting lineup, took a big win in the first round over Foothill Tech’s Clare Duganne, while Carol Cai moved at the last minute from the doubles lineup to beat Ella Duganne 6-0. Cai’s win matched top Cate player Grace Fuss’ 6-0 victory over Noelle Haywood for a Cate singles sweep in the first round.

Moving Cai from the doubles lineup meant that first-year varsity player Emily May would make her debut as a starter, pairing with junior Fritze Mayer at the #1 position. The two went down 0-3 early, but gamely battled Foothill’s senior tandem of Alyssa McClain and Jolie Seemayer all the way to a tie-breaker. Despite dropping that breaker, the two would rally to take 6-1, 6-2 victories in their remaining rounds.

The Cate doubles pairings of Mia Foster/Ashi Kamra and Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit fared equally well against Foothill’s #2 and #3 doubles team, but no one could take down the experienced McClain/Seemayer combo on the day.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

We went down from 11 players to 9 in the two hours before the match, which is definitely the way to go into a match against a team sporting a 6-1 record, but injuries and illness happen. What makes this one of the best matches of the year in my mind is the way we handled it.

I had a good talk with my captains Grace and Carol and we put together the lineup we felt would put us in a position to win a close match, but then everyone kind of performed to “best-case-scenario” expectations. 

Ellie was the epitome of heart in both of her matches and took a big win against a player who clearly had more training and match experience. She’s only beginning her time at Cate and we’re already seeing that she has the same heart and determination that her sister Kate displayed over the last couple of seasons.

I was also thrilled with the way Emily stepped up at #1 doubles. She’s very new to tennis compared to her peers, but she’s going to be an absolutely deadly doubles player and she gave us a good preview today.

We definitely owe our success to Carol and Fritze today, too. They are unbeaten in doubles together this season, but Carol stepped up and got the sweep today when we need her in singles, and Fritze played some of her best tennis today, which was key to allowing Emily to do what she did.

What’s next for Cate girls’ tennis?

Cate, now 6-0 on the season, plays away on Thursday against La Reina in a Tri-Valley League match.

Cate Wins Battle of Undefeated Tri-Valley Teams 13-5

In a match between two undefeated teams, only one team can come out the other end with their streak intact. In today’s match, Cate girls’ tennis moved to 4-0 on the season with a victory over previously undefeated Thacher (6-1).

Grace Fuss led the charge, winning all three of her sets on the day without dropping a game. Fuss has now won 54 of 55 games en-route to a 9-0 mark on the season.
Aminah Hill played her best tennis to take impressive wins over Thacher’s top two players, before receiving a default win in the final round-of-play.

In doubles, Cate’s top duo dropped just two games across three sets. Carol Cai and Fritze Mayer, like Fuss, move to 9-0 on the season at the #1 position. Mayer is also 3-0 in singles play for a 12-0 mark at this stage of her junior season.

Sophomores Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit continue to impress at #3 doubles, taking two of three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-1) against a tough Thacher doubles lineup.
Cate has now won 37 consecutive Tri-Valley League matches, dating back to October of 2014.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

This was our most complete match of the season. We were firing on all cylinders on every court throughout the day. Our doubles teams are starting to execute the strategies we’ve been practicing more and more seamlessly.

In singles, I thought Aminah reached another level with her mental toughness. She totally impressed me today and the scary part is, I firmly believe she’s just starting to tap into her potential as a competitive tennis player.

On the other end of things, Grace has been absolutely devastating this season. Her game really picked up last season and she’s carried that aggressive, tenacious baseline striking into this season nicely. She has blossomed into one of just three truly dominant singles players I’ve had the pleasure of coaching at Cate across 11 seasons.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate plays again on Thursday against St. Bonaventure High School at 3:45pm. The match will take place at Ventura College.

Cate Blanks La Reina in Tri-Valley League Opener

Cate Girls’ Tennis opened regular season play with a blemishless performance against La Reina High School. The Cate team won 18-0 despite resting their senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai.

In singles, Aminah Hill started at #1, but was substituted out after a convincing 6-0 victory in the first round. Madeline Vanica picked up the remaining two wins at that position, while Fritze Mayer and Yuki Kobayashi chipped in three sets each at #2 and #3 singles (respectively).

In doubles, the pairing of senior Mia Foster and sophomore Ashi Kamra picked up where they left off last week against Dos Pueblos, with 6-0, 6-1, and 6-3 victories at the #1 spot.
The doubles combinations of sophomores Julianny Forry/Maesa Vonkusolkit and freshman/sophomore tandem Ellie Tunnell/Emily May also swept their three rounds of play. Forry and Vonkusolkit were particularly dominant, earning their wins without dropping a single game (6-0, 6-0, 6-0).

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I was really happy with the way the girls performed, despite not having the benefit of the team’s top-2 players. Going into your first home match and first league match of the season without your team talismans can be a little unnerving, but everyone stepped up and not only got the wins, but also worked on elements from our practices that will serve us well later in the season.

Up Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis

Cate plays again next Tuesday against league and prep-school rival Thacher. The match will be held on Cate Mesa at 3:45pm.

Cate Girls’ Rally for 10-8 Win over DPHS

Cate Girls’ Tennis overcame a 2-4 start in the first round-of-play to defeat Dos Pueblos High School 10-8.

Cate struck first with quick wins from Grace Fuss at #1 singles and Carol Cai/Fritze Mayer at #1 doubles, but that would be it for the Rams in round one. Dos Pueblos fielded got quick wins at #2 and #3 doubles and Alessa Sommer came from 2-3 down to win the next four games against sophomore Aminah Hill.

Cate quickly righted the ship in the second round, winning the next three sets and pulling even at 6-6 by the end of the second round, thanks to strong play from senior Mia Foster and sophomore Ashi Kamra at the #2 position.

Kamra and Foster continued their strong play in the third round with a 6-2 victory to duplicate their win in the second round. 

Cai/Mayer and Fuss remained undefeated on the season with convincing second and third round wins.

Hill rallied from her first round loss to collect two key wins, including the 10th and match-clinching win in the final round.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

I think it’s been 10 years since we last played DP, and I remember the last one not going so well for us, so this was a good win. They’ve got a very balanced team and with this being our first week of match-play, they really had us on the back foot in that first round.

We’re fortunate to have unmovable rocks at #1 singles and doubles, but it takes more than six sets to win a match. So far this season, both against Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos, we’ve had some less experienced players step up and get us big wins in the clutch. 

Ashi Kamra and Mia Foster were a combined 0-5 on Tuesday against Santa Barbara, but today, their two wins were the key to us taking this match. 

To me, that’s one sign of a quality team; on any given day, any player on the team is capable of stepping up for the big win when the match is on the line. I’m very proud of the way my girls competed and managed the pressure today.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis

Cate, now 2-0 on the season, will open Tri-Valley League regular season play at home against La Reina at 3:45pm on Tuesday, September 24th.

Cate Girls Off to 10X Start to 2019 Season with Win Over SBHS

Cate girls tennis opened their 2019 season account with a 10-8 win over Santa Barbara High School.

Cate overcame SBHS, a school ten times its size, with dominant play at the top singles and doubles positions.

Senior Grace Fuss was a perfect 18-0 in games across her three sets of play, while the senior/junior duo of Carol Cai and Fritze Mayer won theirs 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

Cate sophomores also played a crucial role in the victory. Aminah Hill chipped in two 6-2 sets, before dropping her final set 4-6 against SBHS #1 Sophia Ostravany.

The 10th and match-clinching set was won by sophomores Julianna Forry and Maesa Vonkusolkit, who were both making their varsity debuts on the day. The 6-4 win was all the more impressive having come against the top SBHS team of Hannah Mendez and Natalie Brewer.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to our season. We shook off some first-match nerves and got a lot of great match-play against a solid opponent. 

Of course, coming out with the win makes it even better. We’ve got a goal of being the top girls’ tennis team in Santa Barbara County this season, and this was a solid first step towards that goal.

Our experienced players really carried us through the early rounds, but we got some nice wins from younger players, too. I was really impressed by the way Maesa Vonkusolkit rallied from losing her first two matches and Julianna Forry was ready to step in and take full advantage of the opportunity joining Maesa in the final round. To get the match-clinching win from a team who have never played a varsity doubles match before is huge.

What’s Ahead

The Rams will have another chance to lay claim to that title on Thursday, when they play away at Dos Pueblo’s High School at 3pm.