Laguna Blanca Enters Final Phase of Season 6-2 with a Chance of Playoffs Berth

The Owls have just two matches remaining in the Spring 2023 season, with Foothill Tech visiting Hope Ranch today and a rescheduled away match this coming Tuesday against Cate School.

In league play, the Owls are 3-2, with the top four teams in the Tri-Valley League receiving an auto-bid into the CIF Playoffs. However, the two remaining teams are some of the stronger squads in the TVL, meaning an upset win in one of those final two matches of the season will be necessary to pick up that auto-bid. Laguna is guaranteed a winning record on the season, and consequently, an at-large bid for a playoff wildcard spot should they fail to produce an upset today or next Tuesday.

Recent Match Recaps

Laguna Blanca v. Carpinteria: 9-9 (71-65) Win

Carpinteria High ceded the #3 doubles position, giving Laguna a 3-0 start to the match, which ended up being critical in the tie-break win. Carpinteria’s #1 singles player, Max Stone, was dominant in dropping just 1 game across three sets and Laguna was also unable to scratch against the #1 doubles line.

Davis Ohanian went 2-1 on the day in singles, while senior captains Aden Meisel and Kent Dunn each chipped in a win over the Carpinteria #2 singles player. In doubles, the pairings of Mason Berg/Robbie Dunn and Cody Busch-Weiss/Connor Murphy each picked up wins over the Carp High #2’s to bring the total to 9 set-wins. The Owls then nervously counted games within each set to reveal a win by a margin of just 6 games.

Laguna Blanca @ Thacher: 3-15 Loss

The Owls faced a very strong Thacher squad in a match that had very few close sets. One bright spot was a 12-10 tie-beak win from junior Mason Berg in his first singles match of the season, playing at the #3 position. Sophomore Davis Ohanian added a 6-2 win against the Thacher #3 in the final round of play, with the sole doubles set-win coming from seniors Aden Meisel and Cody Busch-Weiss against the Thacher #2 line.

Laguna Blanca v. Dunn: 14-4 Win

Twin brothers Kent and Robbie Dunn went 3-0 in singles play against the school that coincidentally bears their name. Davis Ohanian slotted into the doubles lineup for the first time on the season, pairing with Mason Berg for a blemishly sweep at #1 doubles. Freshmen Connor Murphy and Noah Mitev partnered to go 3-0 on the day as well, while Cody Busch-Weiss and Lucas Ayala finished 2-1 on the day.

Laguna Blanca v. Bishop Diego: 14-4 Win

The Owls nearly completed a sweep of the Bishop Diego singles lineup, with Davis Ohanian and Mason Berg dropping just 6 games between them in 6 sets-of-play. Kent Dunn lost a tight 5-7 set against the Bishop #1, but rallied to take a tie-break win in the final set to finish 2-1 on the day.

In doubles, Laguna was unable to crack the top Bishop Diego team, with two sets pushed to 5-7 scores. However, it was all W’s in the remaining 6 sets, with pairings Cody Busch-Weiss/Robbie Dunn, Connor Murphy/Noah Mitev, and Lucas Ayala/Changzheng Yu all finishing 2-1 on the day. Ayala and Yu were particularly notable, playing together for the first time and battling gamely for the Owls in three close sets (5-7, 7-5, 6-4).

Laguna Blanca @ St. Bonaventure: 13-5 Win

Laguna Blanca secured a winning record on the season with a 13-5 victory over short-handed St. Bonaventure, who conceded the #3 position in both singles and doubles.

The Owls got a sweep from new pairing Aden Meisel and Noah Mitev in doubles and cobbled together wins from Davis Ohanian, Mason Berg, and Kent Dunn in singles against the #2 and a win from Cody Busch-Weiss and Robbie Dunn against the #2 doubles team to create the comfortable winning margin.

What’s Next for the Owls?

In addition to the remaining TVL matches, Laguna will send 6 players to participate in the league doubles tournament, which begins this coming Monday at 1pm, with the Cate School hosting.

Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis Opens Season 2-1

The Owls faced a rain-soaked first half of the 2023 tennis season, but managed to go into spring break with wins over Orcutt Academy and Santa Ynez High School.

Laguna Blanca v. Orcutt Academy: 6-3 Win

In the season opener, Laguna played the CIF-Central Section format of 6 singles matches followed by 3 doubles matches. Sophomore Davis Ohanian led the team at #1 singles with a 6-3, 6-2 win and junior Mason Berg also won in straight sets at the #4 position.

Laguna’s senior captains, Aden Meisel and Kent Dunn, took third-set tie-break wins at the #2 and #3 positions to add to the Owls’ singles tally. Orcutt fired back with wins at the bottom two positions in the lineup, putting the match at 4-2 going into doubles play.

Laguna got a win from Lucas Ayala and new addition to the team Noah Mitev at the #3 doubles position and the last match of the day was won by Ohanian and Meisel, who partnered at the top spot in the doubles lineup.

Laguna Blanca v. Santa Ynez: 6-3 Win

Laguna again utilized the CIFCS format in the match against Santa Ynez.

The Owls split the singles match-play, wins at the #3-#5 positions (Kent Dunn, Mason Berg, Robbie Dunn, respectively). Davis Ohanian nearly pulled up an upset win at the #1 position, playing the experienced Santa Ynez ace to an 11-13 score in the third-set tie-breaker.

With the match tied going into doubles play, Laguna held nothing back in fielding some formidable doubles combinations. Ohanian and Meisel paired for an 8-4 win at the top spot, with Mason Berg and Kent Dunn also partnering for an 8-2 victory. Junior Lucas Ayala shared the #3 position with freshman Noah Mitev to make a clean sweep of the doubles with an 8-3 win.

Laguna Blanca v. Villanova: 5-13 Loss

The match against Villanova High School from Ojai marked the beginning of Tri-Valley League season play. Unfortunately, it ended in a loss against the deeper Villanova squad, but there were some particularly bright moments for the Owls.

Davis Ohanian played lights-out tennis for a 6-2 win over Tristan Montecino, a senior and one of the stronger players in the league. He followed that up with another quick win, moving him to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in league play.

The pairing of Robbie Dunn and Mason Berg lost a heart-breaker 6-7 at the #1 doubles position after leading early, but rallied to go 2-1 on the day with 6-2, 6-0 set-wins. Aden Meisel added a win over Roman Moga, the Villanova #2 player.

What’s Next for the Owls?

The Owls return to action after a two-week break, facing visiting Carpinteria High School at 3:30pm today. The match will be followed up on Thursday at Laguna, when the Owls will take on Dunn School in the second Tri-Valley League match of the season.

Winter Sabbatical 2.0 Announcement

Hello there Thorpe Tennis Community!

As most of you know, exactly one year ago I made a Winter Sabbatical Announcement right here on what my high school students affectionately refer to as “the blog.” Giving myself permission to step away from 7-days-per-week teaching at Thorpe Tennis was an incredibly fruitful decision and I’ll be doing another “sabbatical” period this year.

One of the most important things I took from my extended time away was how valuable it can be to remove oneself from the normal rhythms of life that become automatic, almost by accident. As life advances, and with the knowledge that time is a finite resource, I am learning it takes a willingness to pause and consider in order to reach my full potential.

Many people say happiness is what we should be aiming for in the end and others say it’s achievement. I’m not wise enough yet to know the answers to life’s most enduring questions, but I know I feel both happy and accomplished when I’m maximizing my potential, especially when it’s in the service of others.

I came back from last year’s sabbatical feeling particularly invigorated and ready to give my best to my boys’ team at Laguna Blanca. We had a banner year, reaching the CIF Semifinals. My girls at Cate wrapped up their season last week and I think we had an excellent season as well. I also feel an added level of perceptiveness and curiosity when doing my private lessons; I think I’m a better coach and that’s good for everyone.

How will this affect Thorpe Tennis this winter?

While I’ve just finished describing how beneficial it is to occasionally step away, I firmly believe that routine is a critical part of development, particularly for young people. Success is not built on the back of intermittent efforts and I want to do what I can to make sure my students keep the ball rolling forward this winter.

That said, I’ll be in Santa Barbara and teaching more often than last year. I’ve already plotted out my intended schedule for winter (I may add a few more dates later) so that students can book in advance and plan for the period I’m away. I’m also trying to connect students to organize their own hits and match-play in-between lessons.

Thorpe Tennis Winter Availability: November 13-22, December 5-14, January 7-17, back full-time February!

What in the world are you doing with all that free time?

I have three objectives for this sabbatical:

  1. Spend more time with friends and family.
  2. Continue to build-out and optimize Casas Thorpe, my vacation rental company.
  3. Leave significant unstructured time for reflection, ideally in nature.

Thanks for your understanding and I look forward to bringing my absolute best to Santa Barbara Area Tennis for years to come!

Cate Exits D2 Playoffs after 7-11 Loss to Oak Park

The CIF Division 2 match was played at Oak Park, with morning rain giving way to sunshine on a windy autumn day. Despite a valiant effort, Cate Girls’ Varsity Tennis was unable to extend the 2022 season, falling 7-11 to #6-seed Oak Park.

Cate got off to a slow start, with #2 singles player Frances Davis out sick and a nationally-ranked singles player leading the line for Oak Park.

Niyati Guram defeated Cate #1 Alyna Takahashi 6-1, although Takahashi would recover to finish 2-1 on the day. Only the #2 doubles pairing of senior Ellie Tunnell and junior Sophie Alijani were able to take victory in the opening round, with a 5-5 set that ended in an injury default.

Cate rallied mightily in the second round, with a tie-break win for freshman Claire Bianchi against Oak Park #3 Shrya Alavarti, helping to keep the match from getting out of reach. Ella and Colette Chang came back from 1-3 down to add a doubles win and Tunnell/Alijani also won, bringing the match score back to 5-7.

In the third round, Cate received a quick win from Takahashi and the Chang Sisters ended older sister Ella Chang’s high school career with a dynamic performance ending in a backhand poach-winner from the older sister on match-point.

Oak Park took a 9-7 lead with wins at #2 and #3 singles, before their top doubles team rallied from love-40 at 4-5 down just as their #2 doubles team also recovered from 4-5 down to regain the lead over Cate’s senior/freshman #3’s Athena Ke/Pyper Davis. In the end, Oak Park would take the win 7-5 over Tunnell/Alijani to clinch the match and moments later a 7-5 win over Ke and Davis completed the match.

Cate finishes the season 6-4, having taken 2nd place in Tri-Valley League play and qualifying for CIF Playoffs for the 10th-consecutive season. Cate girls’ tennis also has the honor of being the smallest school (by enrollment size) to compete at the CIF Division 2 level and will likely return 6-of-9 starters for the 2023 season.

Cate Wins Big on Parents’ Weekend

Cate girls’ tennis got Parents’ Weekend off to a strong start, recording a 13-4 victory over Thacher in Ojai.

Cate has now completed regular season play, finishing 6-2 in Tri-Valley League play and 6-3 overall. The team has also qualified for CIF Playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.

How it Happened

Cate jumped out to a 6-0 lead with wins from Alyna Takahashi, Frances Davis, and Claire Bianchi in singles and Ella Chang/Colette Chang, Ellie Tunnell/Sophie Alijani, and Athena Ke/Pyper Davis in doubles.

Junior Annie Chian subbed in for Pyper Davis against the Thacher #1’s, rallying from 1-5 down with Ke to take a 7-5 win. The pair cruised to a 6-1 win in the final round, collecting a Cate sweep for doubles line #3 on the day. Sisters Ella and Colette Chang also swept, with a trio of 6-1 wins at the #1 line.

Freshman Elsie Chamberlain again made the most of her opportunity as a substitute, moving to 8-3 on the season in singles play with a 6-4 win over the Thacher #3.

The match was followed by the Ojai tennis tradition of Boccali’s strawberry shortcake, with Cate coming out the 5-0 winner against the shortcakes. Numerous pizzas suffered a similar fate.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Six Cate players will compete individually this coming Tuesday in the league tournament, which will also be hosted by Cate this season. The following Monday, Cate will learn its playoff draw, with play to commence on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Cate Splits Week of League Matches

Cate Girls’ Tennis has gone 1-1 in Tri-Valley League play this week, falling 7-11 to Foothill Tech on Tuesday before rebounding with a 16-2 victory over Laguna Blanca.

Cate @ Foothill Tech: 7-11 Loss

In another very close match, Cate came up short against Foothill Tech, going 0-6 against the #1 positions in singles and doubles. Conversely, Cate went 6-0 against the #3 singles and doubles positions, suggesting that Foothill took the win with a strong upper end of the lineup, while Cate may in fact have more depth.

A bright spot for Cate, junior Sophie Alijani and freshman Claire Bianchi went 2-1 on the day and freshman Elsie Chamberlain took a win as a substitute singles player. Freshman Pyper Davis also had a win, pairing with senior Athena Ke. Three freshman accounting for 4-of-7 set-wins suggests Cate has room to grow in the future.

Cate v. Laguna Blanca: 16-2 Win

The rebound was swift and severe for Cate tennis, as they put in an absolutely dominant performance against visiting Laguna Blanca. Through the first two rounds-of-play, Cate went a perfect 12-0 before making a number of substitutions.

The win was spear-headed by seniors at the #1 singles and doubles positions, with Ellie Tunnell going 2-0 on the day and Ella Chang/Athena Ke paired for a 3-0 day in doubles. The match will be the last regular season home game for the trio, who celebrated senior day with a special recognition from the team during introductions.

Freshman Claire Bianchi continued to impress, going 3-0 in her first singles play of the season, while usual #1 player Alyna Takahashi added 6-1, 6-0 set-scores against the top-2 players from Laguna. Freshman Elsie Chamberlain has quietly moved to 7-3 on the season in singles play as a substitute after taking a tie-break set-win against Danica Damiana of Laguna Blanca.

In doubles, junior/sophomore combo Sophie Alijani and Colette Chang joined Chang/Ke with a sweep of their three rounds, while sisters Frances and Pyper Davis chipped in 2 wins on the day from the #3 doubles position.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate, now 5-3 overall (5-2 in league play) will close out regular season play next Thursday at Thacher School in Ojai. The following week will see Cate team-members participating in Tri-Valley League Individuals, followed by a run at the CIF Division 2 playoffs in early November.

Cate Wins 15-3 in League Match Against Providence

Cate girls’ tennis (4-2) emerged with a 15-3 victory over Providence High School (6-4), following on the heels of a 14-4 win against Thacher on Tuesday.

Cate singles put together a perfect day, with Frances Davis and Ellie Tunnell sweeping their three sets and Alyna Takahashi and Elsie Chamberlain sharing the #1-line duties for a sweep.

In doubles, Cate got three wins from sophomore Colette Chang, who partnered with sister Ella Chang in the first round and Annie Chian in the remaining two sets. First-year varsity players Athena Ke and Pyper Davis added two sets, while Sophie Alijani/Claire Bianchi chipped in another set.

The third consecutive win in league play puts Cate solidly in the playoff picture, with a chance to claim a share of the Tri-Valley league title with a win over Foothill Tech this coming Tuesday.

In the first meeting, Cate dropped three tie-break sets and ended up losing 8-10, so the match, held at Ventura City College, is likely to be very close again.

Cate Narrowly defeated by Foothill Tech

Cate girls’ tennis fell by a final score of 10-8 today against visiting league rival Foothill Tech. The match was an absolute nail-biter, with the score going neck-and-neck throughout the first two hours of play.

Cate picked up a crucial win from #1 singles player Alyna Takahashi, who defeated Foothill’s Kira Branson 6-2. Takahashi would go on to win her remaining sets and move to 6-0 in Tri-Valley League play.

Foothill responded with a quick win at #3 doubles, but Cate countered with a 6-3 win from Sophie Alijani and Claire Bianchi at the #2 spot. Cate also got a crucial victory from freshman Elsie Chamberlain, who finished the day 2-0.

The final two sets of the first round ended with tie-break wins from Foothill Tech at #2 singles and #1 doubles, the result being a 3-3 tie instead of a 5-1 Cate lead.

In the second set, Cate took two sets again in singles, but failed to scratch across three doubles sets, that also included another tie-break loss against the visiting team’s #1 doubles pair. Alijani and Bianchi even had a set-point serving at 5-4, but were pushed back by a determined Foothill team that played some of their best tennis in the crucial moments.

Round three began with Cate slightly ahead in overall games won, but down 5-7 in sets, meaning they’d need 4-of-6 sets in the final round to take victory. Cate singles took 2-of-3 in quick order, with junior Frances Davis breaking through for her only win of the day at an important moment.

With the doubles left on-court, Cate faced an uphill battle, starting down 0-3, 1-2, and 0-3 across the three courts. Top Cate duo Ella and Colette Chang rallied, winning their last 5 games for their first set-win on the day, but Cate’s #2 and #3 teams were unable to get past their foes, resulting in a loss by the narrowest of margins.

Cate, now 1-2 overall, will play again on Tuesday, traveling away for the first time this season to face Laguna Blanca in Hope Ranch.

Cate Takes First Win of Season Against Providence

Cate girls’ tennis got off the mark with a 14-4 win over league rival Providence High School, moving to 1-1 on the season.

The win was anything but assured in the early going, with Cate missing a senior captain and the score locked at 2-2. The remaining matches in round 1 were a closely contested battle between the top doubles teams and a #2 doubles match that was led 5-0 by Providence.

Sisters Ella and Collette Chang overcame nerves in the back-and-forth battle at #1 doubles to take a 7-1 tie-break win. Meanwhile, junior Sophie Alijani and Claire Bianchi overcame the 0-5 deficit to rattle off 7 straight games, giving Cate a 4-2 set-lead at the end of the round.

Alijani and Bianchi would go on to win a total of 17 straight games, going 3-0 on the day. The Changs also swept, while first-year varsity players Athena Ke and Pyper Davis took 2-of-3 from the #3 spot.

In singles, junior Alyna Takahashi was dominant, winning her sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. Junior Frances Davis was impressive with her determination and consistency, taking 2-of-3, while freshman call-up Elsie Chamberlain fought gamely through the first two sets before breaking through for her first win of the season in the final round-of-play.

Cate will face their Tri-Valley League Co-Champions from last season, Foothill Tech, on Friday on Cate Mesa at 4pm.