With a 10-8 win at La Reina, Cate remained undefeated on the season (9-0, 6-0 in league) and clinched the Tri-Valley League title (we have two more league matches, but there is no scenario where another team could overtake us in the overall standings). This is Cate’s first title since moving up to Tri-Valley last season.
The first round ended with a 3-3 tie after Eva Herman and Janice Ng narrowly missed out on an upset (6-7) at the #2-spot. Cate managed to take a 6-game lead (a critical lead should the match go to a 9-9 tie) in that round and pushed the lead out considerably in the second round. In addition to a lead on games, Cate had a 6-4 margin with two tie-breakers in play at the end of round-2.
After splitting the tie-breakers, Cate took a 7-5 lead (plus a heavy lead in games) into the final round, meaning two sets would be enough for the win. Instead, Cate took three sets and narrowly missed out on a fourth, going from strength-to-strength throughout the match.
Julia Gan put on a show at #1 singles, winning her sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 against three nationally-ranked opponents. The 6-2 set was a win over Sophia Aulicino, who is currently ranked in the top-500 in the nation and #75 in California for her class. This, along with Julia’s 6-4 win a few weeks back, marks a complete reversal of last season’s results between the two, where Aulicino won both sets convincingly.
Jackie Cai, previously 6-0 on the season, slotted in at #2 singles, and played three strong sets (3-6, 6-7, 1-6). Although she did not come away with a win, we did get our first real glimpse of her true potential. In particular, she played freshman Tiara Nourishad (ranked #115 in California) deep into a tie-break set.
In doubles, Cate took 7 of 9 sets, with unbeaten pair Summer Christensen/McKenna Madden sweeping at #1 doubles. The duo are now 19-0 on the season and will be facing another undefeated #1 doubles team on Friday when we play San Marcos.
Pairings Eva Herman/Janice Ng and Emma Liberman/Cecelia Sanborn took care of business as well, each taking two sets and pushing La Reina’s strongest team to the edge of defeat. Seniors, Liberman and Sanborn took particular satisfaction in the day’s results, after coming up empty in the first meeting with La Reina this season.
Now standing 9-0 and having clinched a #1-seed for CIF playoffs (first-round home match!), Cate has five matches remaining in the season (all at home). Our next opponent will probably be the toughest of the season, which also means that a win on Friday would make “the perfect season” a likelihood.
Friday afternoon’s match is a must-see up at the Cate Mesa. Our D2 Tri-Valley League Champions will face off against the D1 Channel League Champions (San Marcos) in a battle for the title of “strongest team in the Santa Barbara area.” We’re looking forward to the challenge and we hope to see lots of fans out for the match!