On Tuesday, Cate faced Nordhoff in Ojai and came away with a resounding 16-2 victory. Despite playing a few short of a full roster and with some new doubles combinations, the team rallied to win the first 16 sets of play. Similarly, with two starters still out, Cate came up with the goods in today’s match against league rival, La Reina High, coming out with a 10-8 win.
Cate, now 4-0 (2-0 in league), faced a La Reina team (now 4-2) that had won handily in both of last season’s match-ups, but today was different.
Julia Gan rocketed off to a 4-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 win against junior Sophia Aulicino, who is currently ranked #71 in California and #467 in the country for her class. This win was a reversal of last year’s results between the two, where Aulicino won both sets and this big win for Cate set the tone for the remainder of the match. Gan went on to beat her second opponent 6-0 and then finished with a 6-1 drubbing of another nationally ranked player, Natalie Greco.
Cate was also helped by the stellar performance of senior McKenna Madden and junior Summer Christensen, who paired together on Tuesday to prepare for this match. They came out firing on all cylinders today and swept their three sets to remain unbeaten as a team. In addition, junior/sophomore pairing Eva Herman and Janice Ng took two key sets from the #3 doubles position, moving to 5-1 on the season as partners.
With eight sets between Gan and the two impressive doubles teams, Cate needed another two sets to clinch the match, two sets that would be provided by two players that might not have been expected to produce the upset win.
Annie Lu, having just been called up from JV this week, won her first round match against the La Reina #3 player. Lu played possessed, chasing down balls and fighting for points in a way that had not yet been seen from her. Today, Annie Lu truly became a tennis player.
Then, junior Madeleine Nelson, who had just made the starting lineup for the first time in the last few weeks, was called upon to play three rounds of singles, the first two of which were against the afore-mentioned nationally ranked La Reina players. Despite having a tough time of those matches, Nelson refocused and produced a gutsy performance that led to a 7-5 win and the clinching 10th set.
After losing twice to La Reina last year, this win is a huge boost of confidence for Cate girls’ tennis. In addition, this win puts Cate in the poll position for a Tri-Valley League title (La Reina went undefeated in Tri-Valley play last season).
Cate plays away next, facing cross-town rival Carp High on Thursday, October 1st.