Cate Girls’ Tennis Back to Winning Ways with 16-2 Romp

Despite just three days of practice, Cate Girls’ Tennis got off to a winning start today against Rio Mesa High School.

How it happened

The first round was an almost blemishless performance, with Cate dropping just five games en-route to a 6-0 lead in the match. Caroline Batchelder took the late call-up when another player had to pull out of the match and took an impressive 6-0 victory at #3 singles. In doubles action, after some lineup shuffling, freshman Colette Chang partnered with her older sister Ella took take an equally convincing 6-0 victory at #1 doubles.

It was more of the same at the match continued, with Cate rolling 5-1 in rounds two and three.

Hard-hitting #1 singles player Aminah Hill recorded an elusive golden set in the second round, winning 24 consecutive points. Ellie Tunnell had a battle in the first round, but was too much for the Rio Mesa #2 and #3 players, taking her sets 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 on the day.

In doubles, the Chang sisters completed the sweep on the day, while partners Julianna Forry/Maesa Vongkusolkit and Nikita Nautiyal/Sophie Alijani also finished the day 3-0.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

I was really pleased with the way the girls responded to some last minute lineup changes and just to playing a match on the 4th day of the season. We practiced well so far this week, so I had a feeling we’d come out firing, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to struggle with some early-season nerves. Best of all, I noticed everyone on the team applying the things we worked on in practice. That’s a very strong sign for what’s to come this season.

What’s next for Cate Girls’ Tennis?

Cate will have a long interlude following opening of the academic year next week and outings trips, but will return to match-play on September 17 against league opponent Providence High School. The match will be played on Cate Mesa at 3:15pm.

Cate Girls Take TVL Doubles Title

Senior Fritze Mayer and junior Emily May defeated the English sisters of Foothill Tech 6-3, 6-0 at the Cate School to land their first league title.

Mayer and May close the season 16-0 and continue a Cate streak of four consecutive Tri-Valley League doubles titles.

While the singles league title remains elusive for the Servons, Cate’s #1 singles player Aminah Hill was absolutely devastating in her 6-0, 6-0 victory today to take third place and earn herself All-League First-Team honors.

Senior Yuki Kobayashi and junior Ashi Kamra recovered from a tough tie-break loss in the first set to take third place in the league doubles draw (6-7, 6-0, 10-3). Kamra earned TVL All-League First -Team honors last season with Mayer, while this is Kobayashi’s first time receiving All-League First-Team honors.

The three victories today end Cate’s COVID-shortened season on a high note and bring momentum for the team going into the 2021 fall season in just a few short months.

Cate Girls Record Clean Sweep in Final Tri-Valley League Match

Cate moves to 4-1 on the season with an 18-0 victory at Villanova High School today in Ojai.

It was the final league match of the season and therefore that last official match for senior captains Fritze Mayer and Yuki Kobayashi. Madeline Vanica will also graduate from the program this season, after being a four-year varsity player.

Mayer and partner Emily May continued their unbeaten streak this season (13-0) without dropping a single game. Kobayashi partnered with Nikita Nautiyal at the #2 spot and Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani played #3 in what was a 9-0 doubles win for the Servons.

In singles, Aminah Hill and Caroline Batchelder shared the #1 slot, with Hill taking a 6-0 first-round win, while Batchelder took 7-6 and 6-1 victories in the remaining rounds.

junior Ellie Tunnell and sophomore Ella Chang also took convincing wins in singles play, dropping just six games between them in six sets-of-play.

Cate will play an exhibition match at Thacher on Saturday at 3pm before turning their attention towards league individuals on Monday.

Cate’s 44-Match Win-Streak Snapped by Strong Foothill Tech Singles Lineup

Cate Girls’ Tennis lost a league match for the first time since October of 2014 today while playing visiting Foothill Tech. The match was a cliff-hanger until the third round-of-play, but in the end, the Servons came up short in a 7-11 defeat.

How the match unfolded

Foothill Tech fielded a lineup featuring several several seniors who will be playing at the D3 level in college next year, as well as a third tournament-level player. The formidable singles lineup left Cate as the considerable underdog coming into the match, but Cate pushed the Dragons to their limit.

The first round of play ended in a draw, with Foothill Tech sweeping singles play 6-1, 6-0, 6-1. Cate fired off a similarly dominant performance in doubles, taking three wins of their own (6-0, 6-1, 6-3).

In the second round-of-play, it was much the same, with Cate dominating against Foothill’s #2 and #3 doubles lines, while the Dragons picked up 6-0, 6-0 wins from their #1 and #2 singles players. Junior Aminah Hill broke through with a 6-3 victory playing against the #3 singles opponent, but senior Yuki Kobayashi and junior Ashi Kamra dropped a 4-1 lead against the Foothill #1’s in a 5-7 defeat.

The Foothill #1 doubles team got hot after their comeback and took a 6-1 victory over junior/sophomore combo Julianna Forry/Ella Chang, who had registered quick wins in their first two rounds.

Senior Fritze Mayer and junior Emily May finished the day undefeated with 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 victories to move to 10-0 on the season, but it wasn’t enough for the Servons, who lost 2 doubles matches in the final round.

Despite a mathematically inevitability of losing games, Aminah Hill and Ellie Tunnell battled on to try for a 9-9 tie in the last two matches on-court. Tunnell came back from 0-4 to fall just short at 4-6, while Hill, dropped her final set against the UC Santa Cruz-bound Jolie Seemayer 5-7.

Coaches Thorpe’s Comments

Our streak came to an end, but we competed hard and showed our character. The girls were both fierce competitors and exhibited exceptional sportsmanship. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than in victory, and what was revealed today leaves me feeling very proud as a coach. We faced a tough opponent who took a well-deserved win from us today, but I feel strongly that this match will be a big motivator for us going forward as a team and we’ll be looking forward to the rematch in the fall!

What’s Next for Cate Girls’ Tennis

Cate plays its next few matches in Ojai, with Villanova High School on Thursday at 3:30pm, followed by an exhibition match against Thacher on Saturday at 3pm.

Match Week 2: Cate Girls Go 2-0, Laguna Boys split while playing short-handed

It was a busy week for Coach Thorpe, with four matches in five days that also included a match between Cate and Laguna Blanca, but there will be little respite as the same is scheduled for the following week. On to the recaps!

Monday, April 19: Cate d. Providence 14-4

Cate Girls’ Tennis played Providence High School for the first time and came out with a convincing victory. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, April 21: Foothill Tech d. Laguna Blanca 12-6

The Owls took their first defeat of the season while playing short-handed. Freshman #1 Keanu Nakamura lost a tight 4-6 set in the first round before subbing out and Laguna struggled for wins in singles. Senior Andreas Jackson picked up the lone win with a 6-2 victory against the Dragons #3 player.

In doubles, the Owls faired much better, taking 5-of-9 sets despite going winless against Foothill’s #1 team.

Senior combo Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond took 6-1, 6-0 victories and junior/sophomore combo Ben Rodgers and Aden Meisel added two wins. In the first round, Rodgers and Meisel battled to an 11-9 tie-break win against the Foothill #2 before cruising to a 6-0 win in the third round. George Nicks and Cody Busch-Weiss added a 6-4 set against the #3’s to the Laguna win-column.

Thursday, April 22: Cate d. Laguna Blanca 12-6

Despite winning just one game in three sets against Laguna’s freshman #1 Mina Yazadzhiev, Cate managed to put another match in the win column.

Buoyed by sweeps at #1 and #2 doubles, Cate finished the match with seven wins in doubles and five in singles for a 12-6 final score.

Senior Fritze Mayer and junior Emily May won their sets 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 to move to 7-0 on the season, while senior/junior combo Yuki Kobayashi and Ashi Kamra won 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. Kamra is now a perfect 9-0 on the season. Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani added a 7-5 win in the first round.

Juniors Aminah Hill and Ellie Tunnell each finished the day 2-1, while sophomore Ella Chang rallied from losses in the first two rounds to defeat the Laguna #2 6-3 in the final round of play.

Cate moves to 3-0 with the win and will play next on Monday, April 26th against an undefeated Foothill Tech team that threatens to end a 44-match win-streak in Tri-Valley League play that stretches all the way back to 2014.

Friday, April 23: Laguna Blanca d. St. Bonaventure 14-4

The Owls tasted victory for the second time this season (2-1 overall) with a convincing victory over short-handed St. Bonny, who had to forfeit all three rounds at #2 and #3 doubles. The match was anything but boring though, as Bonny fielded a solid singles lineup and a determined #1 doubles team.

The stand-out performance of the day came from sophomore Aden Meisel, playing at the #3 singles position for the first time. After watching his teammates fall to the #1 singles player from St. Bonaventure 4-6 and 0-6, Meisel turned it around for the Owls with a 6-4 victory in the last match of the day. The Laguna sophomore finished the day undefeated with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 line.

Laguna took two-of-three in doubles, with Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond collecting a 6-1 win and frosh combo Cody Busch-Weiss and Jake Gidney also defeating the Bonny #1’s with a 6-4 score.

In singles, senior Andreas Jackson took two-of-three and looked to be building back some of his old form after a long layoff from regular competitive play, while junior Ben Rodgers took a nice 6-4 victory over the St. Bonaventure #2.

Laguna Blanca plays next on Friday, April 30th in the second Laguna/Cate rivalry matchup, where Coach Thorpe will hope to turn the tide for the Owls, who lost to his Cate girls’ team earlier in the week. Confused yet? So am I! So am I. What a crazy year this has been over at Thorpe Tennis!

Cate Dominant in First-Ever Match Against Providence

Cate Girls’ Tennis moved to 2-0 on the season with a 14-4 win over Providence High School at the Municipal Courts of Santa Barbara today.

In the first meeting of the two Santa Barbara Area private schools, the match began fairly even in the opening games. However, Fritze Mayer and Emily May steam-rolled ahead with a 6-0 win at #1 doubles and then the flood-gates opened.

Junior Aminah Hill picked up a convincing 6-2 win at the #1 singles spot and fellow junior Ellie Tunnell added a 6-3 victory over her opponent at the #2 spot. Yuki Kobayashi moved to the doubles lineup to pair with Ashi Kamra and the pair recorded another 6-2 set to bring Cate to a 4-0 lead.

Providence fought back with wins at #3 singles and doubles, but would only collect two more wins the rest of the way.

Junior/Freshman combo Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani recovered from a 4-6 first round to defeat the Providence #1 squad in the second round and also beat the #2’s in the final round of play.

After rolling through their second round opponents Mayer and May were replaced by sophomore/freshman combo Nikita Nautiyal and Caroline Batchelder who made the most of the opportunity with a 6-1 victory. Meanwhile, in singles, Hill and Tunnell swept their matches to go a combined 6-0 on the day.

Cate Girls’ Tennis plays next on Thursday at the Laguna Blanca School, with the match beginning at 3:30pm.

Match Week 1: Cate Earns Clean Sweep, Laguna Off-And-Running

For the first time in 12 seasons of coaching the girls’ tennis program at Cate and boys’ tennis at Laguna Blanca, both teams are in-season at the same time. The move from fall to spring play for girls’ tennis certainly has complicated things, but the juggling act has worked so far!

We have now completed Week 1 of what will be a four-week mad-dash of match-play and it was a strong one for both of my teams.

Thursday, April 15: Cate d. St. Bonaventure 18-0

Cate Girls’ Tennis picked up right where we left off, notching a 43rd consecutive league victory over visiting St. Bonaventure High School. The Servons surrendered just six games en-route to a clean sweep victory.

Cate was led by Aminah Hill, who returns for her third year as a mainstay in the singles lineup, while senior Fritze Mayer and her partner Emily May held down the top spot in doubles. Mayer and her co-captain Yuki Kobayashi are two of three seniors featuring in the Cate lineup this season, along with Madeline Vanica.

The Servons play next on Monday, April 19th at the Santa Barbara Municipal Courts in a rescheduled match against Providence High School, an opponent Cate has not yet faced in high school match-play.

Friday, April 16: Laguna Blanca d. Bishop Diego 11-7

The Owls opened their 2021 season playing short a few players, but came through with a nice 11-7 win against visiting Bishop Diego.

Bishop’s lineup featured one of the top junior players in Santa Barbara County (and an alum of my summer tennis camps!!!) in Luke Williams, who went 3-0 on the day. However, freshman Keanu Nakamura showed flashes of his talent even in his first high school match, playing Williams close in the opening games and pushing his opponent to top-speed.

Laguna did manage to pick up four wins in singles, with #2 singles player Kai Suzuki opening his junior season with a pair of victories. Senior Rodrick Zhu and sophomore Kent Dunn added to the tally with a win each.

The match was won though with dominance from the Owls in doubles player. Co-captains Nic Richmond and Ben Rodgers got the lone win on the day against the Bishop #1’s who normally play #2 and #3 singles for the Cardinals. Outside the top-line, it was all W’s for Laguna Blanca, leading to a total of seven wins on that half of the scorecard.

Laguna plays next at home on Wednesday, April 21st against league-rival Foothill Tech. When these teams last met, it was with a playoff spot on the line during the 2019 season. The Owls took that match 10-8 and went on to reach the CIF Quarterfinals with a strong playoff run!

Thorpe Tennis Girls Named Co-Player of the Year for Santa Barbara County

The Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable has recently announced Carol Cai and Grace Fuss as the co-winners of the “tennis player of the year” award for the 2019-2020 school year.

I’m very excited for Grace and Carol to be receiving the player of the year award as a doubles team. Together, they were a top-16 team in CIF Southern Section this year and were also excellent Co-Captains of our team at Cate. 

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Cate Doubles Team Continues Remarkable Run in CIF Individuals

Carol Cai, Grace Fuss at CIF Individuals

Cate seniors Grace Fuss and Carol Cai needed just 45 minutes to dispatch their Edison High School opponents in the play-in round of CIF Sectionals down in Seal Beach yesterday afternoon.

The Cate duo was untouchable in their 6-1, 6-0 victory over Zoe Coggins and Kailee You. Coggins is a nationally-ranked senior who has already been signed by D2 Dominican University of San Rafael, California. Her partner is also a nationally-ranked player, making the overwhelming victory all the more impressive.

The victory follows a bye and two straight-set wins for Cai and Fuss in the CIF Regional event, held last week in Carpinteria. The Cate team had been seeded third in that draw and received the Santa Barbara Round Table press luncheon’s “Athlete of the Week” award for their play in the tournament.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Carol has been here before and won in this round (two years ago with her sister Jackie), but to be honest, I’ve never seen either Carol or Grace play so freely on the doubles court. The word is devastating; they were absolutely devastating. You could see the morale of their opponents dropping with every big serve from Grace and every down-the-line forehand winner from Carol. They were also finishing points at net and made very few unforced errors.

What’s important is they didn’t do anything beyond what I’ve known they’re capable of, but it’s more that they put it all together at once and carried that momentum from first point to last. My girls played with confidence and poise today, and if that’s any indication of the future, they are far from done in this CIF Individuals tournament. While the majority of the players remaining in this tournament are either signed or receiving interest from D1 collegiate programs, no team is safe in this draw with the Cate girls still in play.

What’s Next for the Cate Girls?!

The Cate pair will return to Seal Beach Tennis Center on Thursday at 10:30am for the Round-of-16.

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.