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 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.

Cate Girls’ Tennis Falls 6-12 Against Dos Pueblos

Dos Pueblos High School had too much firepower for the freshly assembled Cate Varsity Girls’ Tennis team on Thursday, with Cate dropping the pre-season opener 6-12.

How it Happened

Cate struggled to get a foothold in the early-going, with all but court 1 singles falling behind. Junior Alyna Takahashi to a 4-1 lead and then held her nerve against local 2-star recruit Ellie Triplett. The 6-4 victory for Takahashi was added to by senior Ellie Tunnell, who battled to a 7-2 tie-break win in the longest set of the first round. That was to be it for the Rams, with DP easily sweeping the first round of doubles and picking up the remaining singles set.

The doubles play became more competitive in the following two rounds, with Cate #1’s Ella and Collette Chang collecting two wins and closer set-play from Cate School’s other doubles pairings (Sophie Alijani/Pyper Frances, Claire Bianchi/Annie Chian).

In singles, junior Frances Davis won her third-round match, hitting her stride for a 6-0 victory. Takahashi finished 2-1 on the day, while Tunnell finished 1-2.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

We like to win, but the truth is, this was a pretty great match for us to have so early in the season. Alyna got a huge win at #1 singles and I’m already seeing the tell-tale signs of a team that’s going to progress markedly over the season. Dos Pueblos provide us with 18 great sets of match-play and we’ll be better for it. We relish the challenge of competing against schools 8-10 times our enrollment size and I think we made a good account of ourselves today.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate will now break for Outings Week, before facing Providence High School in the first Tri-Valley League match of the season on Tuesday, September 20th. That match will be followed by a showdown between the league’s two top teams in recent years, with Foothill Tech traveling to Cate School on Thursday the 22nd.

Cate Girls Fall 6-12 to Windward in D3 Playoffs

Cate Girls’ Tennis was dealt a tough draw in this year’s CIF Division 3 Playoffs, but battled gamely throughout the day.

Windward was seeded #8 in the division, but finished third in their league behind Campbell Hall (#2 seed in CIF D2) and Brentwood (D1 playoff team). They also took a win earlier this season against The Geffen School (#2 seed in D4).

In the end, Cate was unable to overcome the challenge from visiting Windward, dropping a 6-12 contest that also marks the end of the season for the Rams.

How it happened

Round 1 perhaps showed the difference in experience between a Windward team that had consistently faced elite-level opponents and a Cate team that played only two close matches on the season. Cate fell behind on every court in the opening minutes of the match and by the time the home team started to find their footing, they faced a significant deficit to battle back. Sophomore Frances Davis brought in the lone win of the first round in the sixth set, with her 6-3 victory at #3 singles.

As the match went on, Cate continued to close the gap in performance, with senior Aminah Hill taking a 6-2 victory in the second round in singles and all three doubles matches going to 3-3 simultaneously at one point in the round. In the end, Cate was only able to add one more set in Round 2, with senior Emily May and junior Ella Chang recording a 6-3 win over the Windward #2 team.

Round three was the most balanced on the day, with Cate and Windward trading set wins back and forth. Senior Julianna Forry and junior Ellie Tunnell led with a 6-2 win over the #1 doubles team, while sophomore Alyna Takahashi rattled off five consecutive points from 0-40 down in the deciding game of her 6-4 set win against the Windward #3. After Hill dropped a tight 5-7 tie-breaker to the #2, senior Ashi Kamra and freshman Colette Chang were the final match of the season for Cate tennis.

Kamra and Chang, who recently earned Tri-Valley League First-Team Doubles honors in the league tournament, fell behind 1-4 in the set. However, the pair, rallied, refusing to surrender the final match of the season, which would also be Kamra’s last for the Rams. The duo responded with three quick games to level the set at 4-4, before a more even back-and-forth ensued. In the end, Kamra and Chang would not be denied, taking a 7-5 set-win against the Windward #2 team and ending the season on a happy note.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

We lost. It’s a bummer. It would have been nice to meet such a strong opponent as Windward a bit later in the draw, but you’d be totally mistaken to think we didn’t enjoy every minute of the match today.

What I witnessed was Cate Girls’ Tennis battling it out to the bitter end together. Our team did a phenomenal job of supporting each other, giving everything and using all we’d been learning across the season to the maximum of what we had to offer on the day. That’s what this is about.

Every starter put a win on the scoreboard today, but more importantly, every member of this team got to be part of something very special: a real TEAM. It was a total honor to be the coach that got to witness it all season long.

Cate Finishes Regular Season 8-2, 7-1 in League

Cate Girls’ Tennis split a pair of matches on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, dropping a 14-4 decision against San Marcos before rallying to a 17-1 victory over St. Bonaventure on Senior Day.

Cate played solidly in the first round against 14-0 San Marcos High School, with the match hanging at 2-3 with a tie-breaker under way at #3 doubles. In the end, the partnership of Julianna Forry and Ellie Tunnell wasn’t quite enough to overcome a stacked #3 San Marcos team, dropping the tie-breaker 6-8.

The trend of closer sets going in San Marcos’ favor continued in the remaining two rounds, with Cate dropping 4 more sets that went 4-6 or 5-7, managing to only snag two more set-wins (both in the second round). The top performer on the day was senior captain Aminah Hill, who picked up two wins and played a solid 3-6 set against Natasha Gill, the top San Marcos player.

The St. Bonaventure match was a different affair altogether, with a total of 16 Cate students (including four JV players) participating in the 17-1 victory. Junior Ellie Tunnell went 3-0 on the day, as did sophomore Sophie Alijani, as the only two Cate students to play all three rounds.

Senior captains Aminah Hill and Emily May won their doubles matches 6-0, 6-0, while senior Ashi Kamra took Hill’s place at #1 singles and went 6-1, 6-1 on the day. The fourth Cate senior, Julianna Forry, won her lone set on the day playing at #2 doubles with Alijani by a 6-2 score.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

The St. Bonny match was a real joy to participate in, with so many parents around for parents’ weekend and so many of our girls able to be involved in the match. It’s always fun to switch up the lineup, and the truth is, the way we practice and learn cohesive strategy (particularly in doubles), the new roles tend to come easily to the girls. I’m also happy to see that our top JV girls have improved this season and hopefully one or two of them will reach the next level and join us on varsity next season.

As far as the San Marcos match goes, I feel that match was just what we needed as we turn our attention towards the high level competition of individuals and team playoffs. San Marcos the #5-seeded team in D2, so I see that team as equivalent to the best we could potentially face in our D3 playoffs next week.

I have seen time and time again at Cate that when these girls are challenged and take a tough loss, they take the experience well and are better the next time. For example, we turned a 5-13 loss against Foothill Tech earlier this season into an 11-7 win just a few weeks later.

Going farther back, we moved from D4 to D2 in 2014 after a CIF QF appearance, and struggled with the higher level in the playoffs the following season. However, in 2016 and 2017 we rallied, reaching the CIF D2 QF’s and earning our spot amongst the top teams in California in D1 for 2018-2020.

As I try to tell my teams every year, the latin root of the word competition means “to seek together.” This means the goal of competition is to push your opponent to their best and have them do the same for you, which results in everyone rising to their full potential. When you take this approach, it’s hard to be disappointed in a hard-fought loss like our match against San Marcos, because we earned ourselves access to that higher potential level for the future.

What’s next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate fields two singles players and two doubles teams in the Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament today at Thacher School. Aminah Hill and Alyna Takahashi enter the draw as #3 and #4 seeds, respectively. In doubles Emily May/Ella Chang are the #2 seeds, while Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang enter the draw at #3.

Cate Defeats Laguna, Thacher 14-4 in Tri-Valley League Play

Cate has moved to 7-1 on the season (6-1 in league play) after dominant second-round performances against Laguna Blanca and Thacher.

How it Happened:

Cate took a 14-4 win in Hope Ranch last Thursday on strength-in-depth. Senior Aminah Hill was unable to repeat her upset victory over Laguna sophomore Mina Yazadhiev, but all three Cate singles players made quick work of the Laguna #2 and #3 positions.

In doubles, Laguna took 8 sets out of 9, including an impressive sweep from #3’s Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani (6-3, 6-3, 6-3). Emily May and Ella Change also swept on the day.

Earlier today, Cate recorded another 14-4 win, this time against the Toads from Thacher School playing on the Cate Mesa.

The win was spearheaded by a 2-0 day from Aminah Hill and Frances Davis in singles, while sophomore Alyna Takahashi moved into the doubles lineup to go 2-0 on the day.

In the second round, she partnered with junior Ellie Tunnell to defeat the Thacher #1 team, which was actually their top two singles players stacked into doubles. The successful partnership may prove useful tomorrow against visiting San Marcos High, a team that typically fields a strong singles lineup.

Cate has often had its most competitive and exciting match of the season against the large Santa Barbara public school. Despite San Marcos having nearly 10-times the student body, Cate had consistently held its own and sometimes defeated the top Santa Barbara County team, including as recently as 2019.

In that year, Cate went on to finish the season with a sweep of all three major Santa Barbara public schools en-route to a CIF D1 appearance. This year, Cate will be competing in CIF Division 3, with a strong performance in tomorrow’s match suggesting the likelihood of a deep playoff run in a few weeks time.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I have been delighted to see different players stepping up in each match. For example, Alyna and Ellie taking down that stacked Thacher doubles team. We also brought up four JV players today and they all came through with wins.

Kate Ragatz was particularly impressive today, taking down the Thacher #3 in a tight 7-5 set in what was her very first varsity match. That was the last match on-court and it would be easy for a freshman to let nerves play the deciding factor, but she took her opportunity to play varsity and ran with it!