It was a small victory just to arrive at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens for today’s match against Desert Valley League Champions Xavier Prep. The Cate girls’ tennis team hit the road at 7:30am and nearly missed the 1pm start time!
Despite the long journey, Cate was game to the task, taking three of the first five sets. The sixth set of the first round, pitting the number two doubles teams against each other came to a head when Cate battled through two set points against to claim the 10th game and knot the set at 5-5. The points in that game were long, often involving multiple volley exchanges at net, but senior Eva Herman and junior Janice Ng refused to be put down. The pair ended up taking the set 7-5 and giving Cate a 4-2 lead overall after the first round.
In the second round, Jackie Cai and the now 29-0 doubles pairing of Summer Christensen/Sarah Polowczak picked up quick 6-0 victories to make the match 6-2, but that’s all Cate would get from the second round.
The two senior singles players from Xavier Prep (Tiani Jadulang and Bryana Quintana) were untouchable on the day. According to their coach, Jadulang had some D1 offers on the table and Quintana is certainly headed towards college tennis as well.
With the match tied at 6-6 after two rounds, it was time to start thinking about counting games. At that stage, Xavier held a two-game lead should the match end tied 9-9.
Cate jumped out to an impressive start in the third round of play, with Herman/Ng collecting a 6-1 victory that was matched by Christensen/Polowczak moments later. First year varsity player Katherine Grossman, who usually plays #3 doubles, followed with an impressive 6-1 display against the Xavier Prep #3 singles player.
Those lopsided victories would prove critical, because Cate lost the last three sets on the day. Grace Fuss and Jackie Cai battled mightily against their older, more experienced opponents, but were only able to scrape three games total between them.
The final doubles match pitted the top Xavier Prep team against two first-year varsity players Carol Cai and Sydney Burton from Cate. Despite falling behind 0-4, the pair fight doggedly in each game and started to make some headway. A few minutes later, the score was 1-4, then a few minutes after, 3-4. The run ended there, but it was a crucial exercise in persistence.
Count and Recount
After several tense minutes of counting and recounting and confirming each individual score, Cate emerged from the desert dust with a 69-68 victory on games. For another account of the nail-biting moments, see a local reporter’s take on the match (Heart-breaker of a tie-breaker: Xavier Prep Nosed out of Playoffs).
I am so proud of my players, not only for the way they battled for every single game, but also for the way they acted in victory. Our captains Summer and Eva called everyone over as Xavier Prep made one last hopeful recount. They told the team that we should wait until the bus to let out the excitement out of respect to our opponents, who were clearly crestfallen to lose by one game. These girls are a class act and it’s a real pleasure to be their coach!
Cate plays next on Monday at home against Riverside Poly in the CIF D2 Quarterfinal match. Riverside Poly has been a CIF Playoffs Finalist each of the last three seasons. Come out and support the girls at 2pm as they try to go one step farther than last season in CIF D2!