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 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 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 Routs Rival Thacher 17-1

In the battle of the west coast’s elite boarding schools, Cate Girls’ Tennis won handily, dropping just a single tie-break set.

How it happened

Cate came out firing in the first round-of-play, with quick wins on all courts.

In singles, senior Aminah Hill and sophomore Alyna Takahashi continued their strong play, notching 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 victories respectively.

Frances Davis, a sophomore transfer from France, made her season debut with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 showing at the #3 spot.

In doubles, Cate finished the day 9-0, with #2 and #3 doubles pairings Emily May/Ella Chang and Julianna Forry/Ellie Tunnell each going 3-0.

Cate #1’s Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang moved to 5-0 on the season with 6-1, 6-3 set wins before sophomores Sophie Alijani and Caroline Batchelder finished the line with a 6-3 win in the final round.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Thacher was a bit short-handed today, but we always relish the chance to compete against them on their home turf. Per team tradition, we follow it up with a trip to Boccali’s for some pizza and their famous strawberry shortcake, so we are always motivated to perform well out in Ojai.

While everyone played well today, honestly, I’m most proud of the one set we lost. More specifically, I’m proud of Nikita Nautiyal, who battled back from 1-4 down in the final match of the day to force a tie-breaker.

It would have been easy to let that one slip away once she got down, but she chose to work even harder to get back into the match instead. The support from her teammates through the end of the match was phenomenal as well.

These are the sorts of things that let a coach know the team is on the right track. Although we lost an early-season match to Foothill Tech, we still have ambition to reclaim the Tri-Valley League Title and we’re also hoping to make a deep playoff run this year in CIF Division 3.

What’s next for Cate?

Cate plays next on Tuesday, October 5th against St Bonaventure before the big rematch with last year’s league champions in Foothill Tech. This time, the match will be at Cate (October 7th) and the girls will be ready!

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.

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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Thorpe Tennis: 2018 Year-in-Review

This post is coming a little later than my typical annual review, but there was no shortage of great things to write about.

As I looked back at last year’s review, I noticed a trend. It’s actually something I think about often. Tennis, and specifically the Thorpe Tennis community, returns every effort I give, with interest.

In 2018, I worked on 258 days, including one stretch of 51 consecutive days. I loved almost every minute of it. That’s not to say there aren’t difficult moments, but every time I step on-court I am filled with a passion for what we can do together to grow as players and as people.

This last spring, Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis rewarded me with my 100th win in 9 seasons as their head coach. We graduated a class that went 52-12 in four years of regular season play and reached the CIF D4 Quarterfinals in each of their last two seasons.

The summer was filled with several blocks of group training weeks, where players got 2-4 hours in per day and made some big gains. I also did many hitting lessons this summer, with students of all ages. Of particular satisfaction was the time spent continuing to improve the tennis of some recent graduates of my high school programs (Conrad Perry, I’m looking at you!).

Also, this summer, I had the pleasure of preparing a special group of incoming freshmen girls for high school tennis. Madeleine Nicks, Ava Rice, Amara Murphy, and Lauren Neubauer all put in big time over the summer to hit the ground running at Laguna Blanca. While I don’t coach that team, I am very excited to see what that core unit can do in the coming years and love that I get to be part of it.

Speaking of girls’ high school tennis, when I think about the program that we’ve developed together at the Cate School, it always gets me fired up. This year, Cate Girls’ Tennis went 12-1 during regular season play and put in a solid effort against eventual CIF D1 Champions, Mira Costa, in the playoffs.

During this period, my girls also helped me to reach the 100-win mark across 10 seasons coaching at Cate. Cate Girls’ Tennis has been utterly dominant in Tri-Valley League play, as well as fielding some of the best players in CIF Individuals year after year.

One of the biggest revelations of the year was the progress I got to make with one of my most dedicated students, Jake Gidney. Over the last year, Jake has improved by leaps and bounds through his commitment to being a better tennis player every day. He’s now wading into tournament play and is quite comfortable playing with players several years older than him. Keep an eye on that kid 😉

Part of the reason players like Jake get to reach new levels and play against stronger competition is that Thorpe Tennis has such a great participation rate with group sessions.

I have been working to expand these groups to offer players the opportunity to 1) play more often 2) play with different opponents at different levels 3) have a ton of fun! We had some absolutely ridiculous moments in 2018, let me tell you.

All of this is to say, I feel very honored to be a coach and a role model to this wonderful group of people. I get so much positive feedback and support from my students and their families. I am filled with the joy of passing on my knowledge and just being part of the process. This motivates me daily to improve what I have to offer as a coach and to reach my full potential as a human being. This is truly a virtuous cycle!


Coach Trevor