Laguna Splits First Two Matches of Season

Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis opened the 2017 season this week with a 12-6 win over Dunn at home and a 6-12 loss to Santa Ynez away.

Laguna Blanca v. Dunn (12-6)

Singles players Victor Liu (junior) and Kai Nakamura (freshman) picked up two wins apiece, defeating Dunn’s #2 and #3 singles players in convincing fashion. Junior Conor Scheinberg added a set in singles and also played a solid 2-6 set against undefeating Dunn #1 singles player Julian Deck.

In doubles, Laguna was led by junior Jason Barnick and freshman John-Henry Schulz, who swept their sets 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 at the #1 doubles position. Doubles pairing Peter Smith/Wesley Schulz added two set wins and Kovid Mishra/Jack Stein and Zane Mazor-Brown/Tony Xu chipped one set each at the #2 doubles position.

Laguna Blanca @ Santa Ynez (6-12)

In what was a challenging early-season match, Laguna was unable to match the depth of a balanced Santa Ynez team.

Kai Nakamura’s performance at #3 singles proved to be a significant bright spot, with the Laguna freshman notching two wins in three sets of play with very effective strategy execution. Victor Liu played a very close first-round set against the Santa Ynez #1 player Braxton Johnson, eventually succumbing 4-6, but also showing off improvements made during the off-season. Liu also managed to snag a set in the second round of play, beating Santa Ynez’s Robert Meyer 7-5.

Alex Furukawa made his season debut, coming over from soccer, winning two of three sets with partner John-Henry Schulz. Kelvin Chen also played in his first match of the season, partnering with Jason Barnick to win a set in the final round of play.

Laguna will play three times in the coming week:

Monday – @ St. Bonaventure (at Ventura College)
Tuesday – v. Coast Union
Friday – v. Orcutt Academy

Posted in Laguna Blanca Boys' Tennis | Leave a comment

Thorpe Tennis: 2016 Year-in-Review

img_8303As I look back on the last three “year-in-review” posts, I am reminded of just how long I’ve been writing what my students affectionately refer to as “the blog.” This is not a new site, and Thorpe Tennis, now seven years old, is not a new thing either. However, I am inspired daily to bring new and better content, methods, and insights to my work.

I feel this way because I have a passion for teaching the game of tennis and particularly for having an impact on young lives. There are few things in this world I enjoy more than seeing the light go on about getting that service contact point up a little higher or cutting off the angles at net; the moment where a player realizes they can compete against that crazy-good opponent; building mastery day-by-day out of desire. These are the little things that make the big difference and not just on the tennis court. These are experiential building blocks for life and I feel very fortunate to be part of that process of growth.

In 2016, there have been challenges, but as a tennis community, Thorpe Tennis has been extremely successful. Here are just some of the many high-points of the year:

  • Spent more than 1,000 hours on-court, coaching 61 players from age 9 to 60.
  • Directed a third, and perhaps, the most successful year of my tennis camp for middle schoolers and incoming freshmen.Laguna Blanca Tennis Camp 2016
  • Coached Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis to a 12-4 record, which saw us ranked as high as #9 in CIF D4.
  • Led Cate Girls’ Tennis to a 10-1 regular season record, during which time we were ranked as high as #1 in CIF D2 before finishing #4. We also made a return to the Quarterfinals of CIF D2, after recording a 69-68 victory over a senior-laden Xavier Prep. With regards to ranking and division performance, these are achievements accomplished by no other team in Cate Athletics history.img_8188
  • Individually, my students at Cate had a big year as well:
    • Grace Fuss finished Runner-Up in Tri-Valley League Singles and won a round of CIF Individuals, before finishing the year ranked #525 in the country for her class.
    • Jackie Cai & Carol Cai won the Tri-Valley League Doubles Title and their first two matches in CIF Individuals. Jackie now sits at #860 in the country, while Carol is ranked #1098; Both are primed for a significant jump in the next year!
    • Summer Christensen & Sarah Polowczak completed a remarkable 26-0 regular season and went on to finish Runner-Up in league (l. to sisters Cai), before also making the third round of CIF Individuals.img_8126
  • Thorpe Tennis can boast a growing number of players active at the collegiate level, with Phillip Hicks and McKenna Madden making the club teams at Yale and Boston College (respectively). McKenna tried out along with 60 other young women for 6 roster spots and made the cut as a freshman!img_8091
  • Julia Gan began her season as a starter for Haverford College, but will transfer to NYU, where she had been heavily recruited last year, for the spring season.
  • Posted 40 blog entries, including many player photos, that were viewed by more than 1,400 visitors to this site.
  • Brought together Thorpe Tennis students for an awesome group lesson during the holidays that spanned six of the seven years I’ve been coaching in Santa Barbara (pictured at top).

Happy New Year to everyone out there reading “the blog” and I look forward to working together towards an even better 2017!

Posted in Thorpe Tennis | Leave a comment

Cate Falls 7-11 in Quarterfinal Round

Cate girls’ tennis was unable to continue their CIF D2 playoff run today, losing a 7-11 decision against Riverside Poly. The match-up pitted a school of 280 against a school of 2,800 and the size-difference showed in depth.

We finally ran up against a team with no weak points. Throughout the year, we’ve always been able to shift our lineup around and use our versatility to overcome strong opponents, but this team was just too deep. They’re the three-time consecutive CIF D4 Runner-Up team, so they also have a wealth of experience.

In the first round of play, it was all Riverside Poly, who won each of the first six sets. Cate lost close matches at #1 and #2 singles and at #3 doubles, but across-the-board seemed a nervous to be playing this level of competition deep in the playoffs.

Round two went better for the Rams, who secured clutch wins from freshman Grace Fuss over senior Dani Baum (6-4) and junior Jackie Cai against junior Jalyn Kornblum 6-2. Kornblum is ranked nearly 200 places ahead of Cai in US national rankings, making this one of Cai’s biggest wins on the season.

Summer Christensen and Sarah Polowczak tried to regroup after suffering their first loss in team play in the first round, but after coming back from 3-5 down in the second set, suffered a tie-break defeat.

In the third round, down 2-10, Cate remained determined to make a match of the affair, and quickly picked up wins from Christensen/Polowczak against a Poly substitute team (6-2) and Eva Herman/Janice Ng defeated the Poly #3 team, playing some of their best tennis of the playoffs (6-1). For Christensen and Herman, this marked the final match (and win) of their high school careers in team play, though Christensen will go on to compete in CIF Individuals with Polowczak.

The last doubles match on-court was Cate’s #3 team of freshman Carol Cai and first-year varsity player Sydney Burton. The pair were the most consistent Cate team through the first two rounds of play and ended up playing their best match of the season against the Riverside Poly #1’s. While they eventually went down 5-7, Cai and Burton hinted at the continued potential of Cate tennis in the coming years.

In singles, Grace Fuss picked up a gritty 6-4 victory over senior Dyala Harb and Jackie Cai played her best tennis of the season in a 6-1 win over Dani Baum. That left just one match on-court, between senior Katherine Grossman (a first year varsity player) and Poly sub Lily Mitchell. Grossman completed the “Cate senior sweep” of the final round by winning a tie-break set.

Winning five out of the last six sets really helped us come out of this match with the right feeling. We played our hearts out every single match of the year, so it was nice to go down fighting in our last match of the season. Just like our other loss of the season, it didn’t really feel like a loss at all. I have nothing but pride for my girls and what they’ve accomplished this season and I have no doubt that they will use this experience to come back even stronger next year.

Posted in Cate Girls' Tennis | 1 Comment

Cate Tennis Prevails 69-68 After Tying 9-9, Advances to CIF Quarterfinals

cate-v-xavierIt 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!

Round 1

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.

Round 2

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.

Round 3

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!

Posted in Cate Girls' Tennis | 3 Comments

Cate Defeats Oak Park to Advance in CIF Playoffs

img_2297The #4-seeded Cate girls’ tennis team moved to 11-1 on the season with an empathic victory today over Oak Park. The first-round playoff match was played at the Cate School in Carpinteria.

Singles play was led by Grace Fuss and Jackie Cai, who both swept their three sets, including wins over Sylvie Van Cott, a strong player who just last year was ranked in the top-300 in the US for her class. Sophomore Sydney Burton also put in an impressive performance to add two sets on the day.

Doubles was much the same as singles, with Cate dominating at the top two positions. Summer Christensen and Sarah Polowczak moved to 26-0 in team matches this year with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 sweep and the combination of Eva Herman/Janice Ng won two sets before being subbed out in the third round. Carol Cai and Katherine Grossman had a tough start, losing to the #3 Oak Park team, before recording impressive 6-1 victories in each of the next two rounds.

We came out nervous; I think we were down on 4 courts early on in the first set. Despite the slow start, we managed to snag four sets in the first round and never looked back. I’m proud of the way we got better and better throughout the match. Hopefully the playoff jitters are out and we can get off to a better start in the next match, but overall, we’re playing great tennis.

Cate will play Desert Valley League Champs Xavier Prep in the Round of 16 on Friday. The match involves a 4+ hour drive for Cate, who lost the home/away coin-flip. The match will be played at 1pm at Indian Wells Tennis Garden, host of the BNP Paribas professional tournament.

This is a great opportunity for our girls to compete at a high level and at a world-class venue. The drive will be tough, but we’re ready for the challenge. I grew up in Palm Springs and have played on those courts many times, so we’ll be ready for the slower court surface and other adjustments we need to make to be successful against Xavier.

Posted in Cate Girls' Tennis | Leave a comment

Cate Girls’ Tennis Dominates League Tournament, Advances 5 players to CIF Individuals

img_2224With quarterfinal and semifinal rounds complete in Tri-Valley League Individuals, Cate Girls’ Tennis has taken both doubles berths and one of the two singles berths that will advance to compete in the CIF Individuals Tournament. Continue reading

Posted in Cate Girls' Tennis | Leave a comment

Cate Girls’ Tennis Continues Push towards Undefeated Season in League Play

sarah-overhead-foothillFourteen Cate students played in a 15-3 victory over Foothill Tech at Ventura College today. The win moves the team to 7-0 in Tri-Valley League play and 9-1 overall.

In singles, sophomore Sarah Polowczak moved up from the doubles lineup to sweep her three sets of play (6-0, 6-2, 7-5), including an impressive recovery after being down 1-4 in the final round. Freshman Grace Fuss added 6-0 wins in both of her sets on the day and Janice Ng and Kate Tunnell each added a win of their own. Continue reading

Posted in Cate Girls' Tennis | Leave a comment