Cate Narrowly Defeated by Calabasas in First Round of CIF D1 Playoffs

Cate Girls’ Tennis came tantalizingly close to it’s first CIF Division 1 playoffs win today against visiting Calabasas High School. After two rounds, the match stood at 6-6, but Calabasas rallied to take four sets in the final round and hand the Rams their first loss of the season, 10-8.

Cate got an absolutely dominant performance out of senior team captain Grace Fuss, who defeated her three opponents 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. Two of those wins came against nationally-ranked players, with Lauren Sebastian ranked as high as 452 in the country in 2019 and Ellina Ivanova currently ranked 529 in the country for her class.

Cate came into the match understanding that, with usual #2 singles player Aminah Hill still sidelined by injury, they would have to win the match through the doubles side of the scoresheet. Carol Cai and Mia Foster combined to make a senior pairing at the #3 position and came out red-hot with a 6-2 win. Sophomores Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit continued their winning ways, following up a 17-3 Tri-Valley League record with a 6-3 victory over the Calabasas #2 team.

Junior Fritze Mayer and sophomore Ashi Kamra anchored the doubles lineup, following their run to the TVL doubles tournament semifinals. The pair had a 3-2 lead against the Calabasas #1 team, but ended up falling 4-6 in a very competitive match.

Mayer and Kamra rallied to take a 10-8 tie-break win in the second round to keep the team afloat, while Cai and Foster cruised to a 6-1 victory against the #2 team. Forry and Vongkusolkit stayed close with the Calabasas #1’s throughout their second-round match, but the experienced Calabasas team broke serve and held to finish the set with a 6-3 win.

In the third round of play, Cate got quick wins from Fuss and Mayer/Kamra, but could not add to the win-tally, dropping the remaining sets to come just shy of victory.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

When you look at the players that had an impact on this match, you’ve obviously got to love what the seniors brought to the table, with Grace rolling her three opponents and Carol and Mia taking two solid wins in their first match together this season.

That said, there’s also a lot to be feeling good about with regards to the players we’ll have back next season. We’ve got three sophomores who formed a crucial part of the doubles lineup, where last season one was playing #3 doubles, another was playing JV, and the third wasn’t even playing high school tennis. That’s a big transformation for Ashi, Julianna, and Maesa. Fritze, who’s already been an important part of the team for a few years now also clearly took a step forward this season and is set up to have a stellar senior campaign in 2020.

Even our #2 and #3 singles players, who got shut out today, have exhibited huge growth from the beginning of the season to now. Yuki Kobayashi is getting closer to cracking the tournament-level as a singles player and freshman Ellie Tunnell totally outperformed expectation this season. They had a hard job today but they gave everything and took some games off of some very experienced ranked players.

To sum it up, the score says we lost today, but to me this match was still an expression of the growth of this team from beginning of season to end. None of these girls are the same players they were two and a half months ago. Meanwhile, the constant across a number of seasons now at Cate is that even when we face schools with many multiples our student population, we rise to the occasion and make it a battle. We can take pride in our performance today and that’s what matters the most.

What’s Next for Cate Tennis?

While team tennis is finished for 2019, senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai will play in the CIF Regional Individuals event held at Cate School and Carpinteria High on Monday, November 25th. They hope to improve upon their 3rd-round performance in 2018 and return to CIF Sectionals, where Carol made the Round-of-16 as a sophomore with her sister Jackie in 2017.

Cate’s Fuss, Cai Power to TVL Title Match

The Cate School played host, today, to the annual Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament. It was mixed fortunes for the five schools in the league, with four schools sharing the finals positions, as Cate’s top-2 eschewed singles league glory for a shot at a deep run in CIF Individuals.

In singles, the top two seeds each dominated their opponents with straight-set wins. Top-seed Helena Insua of St. Bonaventure won her quarterfinal round 6-0, 6-0 and followed that up with a 6-0, 6-1 win over #3-seed Jacqueline Kong (Thacher) 6-0, 6-1. 

Insua will face Natalie Cheng (Thacher) in the singles final, after Cheng took both of her matches on the day without dropping a single game. The third place singles match will take place between Yuki Kobayashi (Cate) and Jacqueline Kong.

In doubles, top-seeded Grace Fuss and Carol Cai (Cate) cruised to 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1 victories. The team is comprised of the top-two singles players in the TVL this season, with the intention of the pair going deep into CIF Individuals.

On the other side of the draw, #2-seeded Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra, also of Cate, were narrowly defeated by last year’s third place team of Alyssa McClain and Jolie Seemayer (Foothill Tech). The Foothill Tech team took the match 7-6, 4-6, 10-3 to book their place in the finals against Fuss and Cai.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

On it’s face, today was maybe not the dominant display you’d expect for our team. It’s true that we haven’t lost a league match since 2014, but our league has some very solid players and we made some strategic decisions going into the tournament.

Grace and Carol were just a point or two away from winning their third CIF Regionals match as a doubles team last year, and we felt they have the chance to really do some damage as a doubles team.

That meant Fritze wouldn’t get to play with her normal partner Carol in individuals, but I think Ashi has really stepped up her game this year and they very nearly pulled off the win. That match between our girls and the Foothill Tech girls was a joy to watch. I can’t even be disappointed about the loss because I saw Fritze and Ashi reach their highest level in that match. On our team, that’s the big win and I’m very proud of their performance against a worthy opponent.

In singles, Yuki has made big strides this season and she took a nice win in the quarterfinals. Though she lost in the semifinal, she came off the court smiling and happy with her performance, and she’s still got a chance to take third place in league. 

Mia Foster also got the opportunity to lay it on the line in singles. As a senior who’s spent most of her career playing doubles, I thought she played great, although it didn’t go her way.

In short, every participant from our team got something good out of the tournament today, and some very deserving players from other teams got through and will surely represent our league well in CIF Individuals.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

All TVL Finals and 3rd-Place matches will take place at the Cate School at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 31st. Following the completion of league individuals, Cate will play in the first round of the CIF D1 Team Playoffs the following Wednesday.

Cate Completes 5th Consecutive Unbeaten TVL Season

Cate Girls’ tennis took a 10-0 victory over league opponent Foothill Tech in the heat and wind. The match was delayed due to air quality issues, but was able to be completed as EPA air index ratings improved later in what was one of the hottest and windiest days of the year.

The match marks 42 consecutive wins for Cate in Tri-Valley League play going back to October of 2014. The win also completes a perfect 10-0 season, in which the Rams not only went 7-0 in league play, but also took down larger Santa Barbara County public school SBHS, DPHS, and SMHS.

Cate was led by senior captains Grace Fuss and Carol Cai, who both registered 6-0 sets in the first round. Junior Yuki Kobayashi also delivered with a 6-2 score at the #3 position.

In doubles, the #2 and #3 matches were similarly one-sided, but a battle ensued at the #1 position. Junior/sophomore combo Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra took a 7-6 victory over Foothill’s top singles players Noelle Haywood and Jolie Seemeyer, who were stacked to form a high-level doubles pair. Mayer and Kamra are now 7-0 together on the season and likely to be a high seed in next week’s TVL Individuals tournament.

I thought we played well in the tough conditions today. I was very pleased in particularly, with the way Ashi and Fritze rallied to beat that stacked #1 doubles team. 

They really proved they’re one of the strongest teams in our league and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in individuals. We’ve also got the defending league champions Grace and Carol in there, so we’re definitely looking to make a big push as deep as we can into CIF Individuals in doubles.

The Tri-Valley League tournament is next up for Cate tennis, with match-play beginning at 1:30pm on Cate Mesa.

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Cate Rolls St. Bonny, Takes Two Wins Over Previously Undefeated TVL Singles Player

Cate seniors made the most of their final home game today with a 16-2 victory over St. Bonaventure. The victory was punctuated by two wins over previously undefeated TVL player Helena Insua.

Grace Fuss opened proceedings with a heady display of tactics, mixing slice forehands with devastating down-the-line backhand winners for a 6-3 result. Carol Cai then followed suit with a serving display that saw her take Insua to 6-5 with just one break each, before Cai broke again to take the set 7-5. Insua rallied to beat the third Cate senior, Mia Foster, who went 2-1 on the day.

Thanks to the dual victories, Cate’s pair of senior captains leap-frogged Insua for the top-two singles records in Tri-Valley league play. Fuss is currently 11-1 in league singles play, while Cai is 13-1 in league (9-1 in singles play), while Insua falls to 12-2. Instead of going after the Tri-Valley League Singles Title next week, Fuss and Cai will return to the doubles draw as defending champions, in a bid to make a deep run into CIF Individuals in November.

Junior Madeline Vanica subbed for Fuss after the first round, going 1-1 on the day, while freshman Ellie Tunnell took Cai’s place in the final round, with a 6-0 victory against St. Bonaventure’s #3 player.

In doubles, Cate completed the full nine-set sweep. Junior/sophomore combo Fritze Mayer and Ashi Kamra won their sets 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 as they begin their push towards Tri-Valley League Individuals. The other Cate pairings of Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit and Yuki Kobayashi/Emily May also went 3-0 on the day.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I was so happy for my seniors today as they competed in their last home match. Mia had a great singles debut, and Grace and Carol got back on terms after losing to Helena in our away match against Bonny earlier this season. 

It’s incredible to think that across these four seasons, these girls have helped, and in many cases led Cate to a 44-3 record in regular season play. They’ve only lost to San Marcos High and to a couple of stacked D1 teams in the playoffs. What they’ve accomplished in their time at Cate is nothing short of spectacular.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

The win mathematically clinches Cate’s 5th consecutive TVL team title, with tomorrow’s match against Foothill Tech the final barrier to a 5th consecutive season without losing a single league match. The match will be played at Ventura College at 3:15pm.

Cate Moves to 7-0 with Second Win Over Rival Thacher in Ojai

Cate Girls’ Tennis won a 10-8 contest over Thacher in Ojai today in what was a battle between the top two schools in the Tri-Valley League.

After defeating Thacher 13-5 earlier in the season, Cate featured a very different lineup in this match, and what is likely for tomorrow’s match against San Marcos.

Carol Cai and Ashi Kamra went 3-0 at #2 doubles while first-year varsity players Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit went 2-1, with their lone loss coming in a tie-break set against the top Thacher pair on the day.

In singles, Grace Fuss recorded three 6-0 victories, while the key victory belonged to freshman Ellie Tunnell. Tunnell, playing at #2 singles for the first time, gutted out an 8-6 tie-break win in the second round that turned out to be critical to the overall victory.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Ellie was awesome today. She’s the only freshman that made varsity and yet here she is picking up a big win for us in a tight match against our league rivals.

The young players deserve a lot of credit for our success this season, with Julianna and Maesa also stepping up for two wins today.

Grace and Carol are our automatic six sets but they’re also our senior captains. It’s good to know we’ve got young guns stepping up to the plate because we’re going to have big shoes to fill next season.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate plays again tomorrow at 3pm on Cate Mesa for a chance to finally lay claim to the title “best team in Santa Barbara County.” Their opponent, San Marcos High, has narrowly defeated them each of the last four seasons.

Cate Alternates Step Up in 13-5 Win over Foothill Tech

Cate girls’ tennis had to do without three key members of the team in today’s Tri-Valley League match, but rallied behind the new lineup to take a 13-5 win.

Freshman Ellie Tunnell, playing for the first time in the singles starting lineup, took a big win in the first round over Foothill Tech’s Clare Duganne, while Carol Cai moved at the last minute from the doubles lineup to beat Ella Duganne 6-0. Cai’s win matched top Cate player Grace Fuss’ 6-0 victory over Noelle Haywood for a Cate singles sweep in the first round.

Moving Cai from the doubles lineup meant that first-year varsity player Emily May would make her debut as a starter, pairing with junior Fritze Mayer at the #1 position. The two went down 0-3 early, but gamely battled Foothill’s senior tandem of Alyssa McClain and Jolie Seemayer all the way to a tie-breaker. Despite dropping that breaker, the two would rally to take 6-1, 6-2 victories in their remaining rounds.

The Cate doubles pairings of Mia Foster/Ashi Kamra and Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit fared equally well against Foothill’s #2 and #3 doubles team, but no one could take down the experienced McClain/Seemayer combo on the day.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

We went down from 11 players to 9 in the two hours before the match, which is definitely the way to go into a match against a team sporting a 6-1 record, but injuries and illness happen. What makes this one of the best matches of the year in my mind is the way we handled it.

I had a good talk with my captains Grace and Carol and we put together the lineup we felt would put us in a position to win a close match, but then everyone kind of performed to “best-case-scenario” expectations. 

Ellie was the epitome of heart in both of her matches and took a big win against a player who clearly had more training and match experience. She’s only beginning her time at Cate and we’re already seeing that she has the same heart and determination that her sister Kate displayed over the last couple of seasons.

I was also thrilled with the way Emily stepped up at #1 doubles. She’s very new to tennis compared to her peers, but she’s going to be an absolutely deadly doubles player and she gave us a good preview today.

We definitely owe our success to Carol and Fritze today, too. They are unbeaten in doubles together this season, but Carol stepped up and got the sweep today when we need her in singles, and Fritze played some of her best tennis today, which was key to allowing Emily to do what she did.

What’s next for Cate girls’ tennis?

Cate, now 6-0 on the season, plays away on Thursday against La Reina in a Tri-Valley League match.

Cate Wins Battle of Undefeated Tri-Valley Teams 13-5

In a match between two undefeated teams, only one team can come out the other end with their streak intact. In today’s match, Cate girls’ tennis moved to 4-0 on the season with a victory over previously undefeated Thacher (6-1).

Grace Fuss led the charge, winning all three of her sets on the day without dropping a game. Fuss has now won 54 of 55 games en-route to a 9-0 mark on the season.
Aminah Hill played her best tennis to take impressive wins over Thacher’s top two players, before receiving a default win in the final round-of-play.

In doubles, Cate’s top duo dropped just two games across three sets. Carol Cai and Fritze Mayer, like Fuss, move to 9-0 on the season at the #1 position. Mayer is also 3-0 in singles play for a 12-0 mark at this stage of her junior season.

Sophomores Julianna Forry and Maesa Vongkusolkit continue to impress at #3 doubles, taking two of three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-1) against a tough Thacher doubles lineup.
Cate has now won 37 consecutive Tri-Valley League matches, dating back to October of 2014.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

This was our most complete match of the season. We were firing on all cylinders on every court throughout the day. Our doubles teams are starting to execute the strategies we’ve been practicing more and more seamlessly.

In singles, I thought Aminah reached another level with her mental toughness. She totally impressed me today and the scary part is, I firmly believe she’s just starting to tap into her potential as a competitive tennis player.

On the other end of things, Grace has been absolutely devastating this season. Her game really picked up last season and she’s carried that aggressive, tenacious baseline striking into this season nicely. She has blossomed into one of just three truly dominant singles players I’ve had the pleasure of coaching at Cate across 11 seasons.

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate plays again on Thursday against St. Bonaventure High School at 3:45pm. The match will take place at Ventura College.