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!

Cate Girls’ Split First Week of League Matches

Cate Girls’ Tennis opened the Tri-Valley League season with a 5-13 loss against last year’s league champions (Foothill Tech), but rallied gamely for a 15-3 win over previously undefeated Laguna Blanca two days later.

Tuesday, September 21: Foothill Tech d. Cate 13-5

In the first round of play, Cate managed to win just one set as the girls returned to matchplay for the first time in four weeks. Playing at #3 doubles, senior Julianna Forry and junior Nikita Nautiyal cruised to a 6-2 win, while #1 doubles lost a 7-9 tie-breaker and #2 doubles lost a tight 5-7 set.

It was a struggle in singles as well for the Rams, as Foothill Tech fielded three tournament-level players and more recent match-play. In fact, it was not until the final singles match on-court that Cate drew blood in singles, with new sophomore Alyna Takahashi taking her first win of the season against the Foothill #2, Anna English.

The later rounds proved better for Cate doubles as well, with seniors Emily May and Ashi Kamra rallying for 6-2, 6-4 wins and sisters Ella and Colette Chang also picking up a win over the Foothill Tech #3 team.

Thursday, September 23: Cate d. Laguna Blanca 15-3

In a complete reversal to Tuesday’s match, Cate came out firing against a 5-0 Laguna Blanca team, sweeping the first six sets-of-play.

In the first round, senior Aminah Hill struck a devastating blow to Laguna’s chances, defeating their ace #1 singles player Mina Yazadhiev 6-3. Hill finished 3-0 on the day, while junior Ellie Tunnell and sophomore Alyna Takahashi collected two wins each in singles play.

In doubles action, Cate’s #1 pairing Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang won three convincing sets (6-1, 6-3, 6-0), while Emily May/Ella Chang also swept (7-6, 6-3, 6-0). Julianna Forry went 1-1 with partner Nikita Nautiyal in the first two rounds, before partnering with Sophie Alijani to take an impressive 6-1 victory over the Laguna #1 team in the final round-of-play.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

While we had practiced well after outings week, it was clear on Tuesday that we lacked some match-readiness. I think had we managed to win those tight doubles sets in the first round to go 3-3 instead of 1-5, the match might have ended differently.

That being said, we improved markedly in our match on Thursday against Laguna Blanca and I think we’re on-track to give Foothill Tech a run for their money in our next meeting. Throughout both matches, I saw lots of good teamwork and support, and coupling that with the progression of our match-play as we get deeper into the season will yield dividends.

Also, this year’s team has shown some excellent marketing skills! Drawing attention to our home match against Laguna by wearing blazers to school was a genius move, so it’s clear we’ve got some creative intelligence to work with should we need it later in the season.

What’s next for Cate Tennis?

Cate will travel away to Thacher on Thursday, September 30th for the classic Santa Barbara Area boarding school rivalry!

Laguna Doubles Teams Finish 3rd and 4th in TVL League Individuals

After coming in with the #1 and #4 seeds in the doubles draw of the Tri-Valley League Individuals tournament, the Owls managed to snag third and fourth this week to end the 2021 season.

TVL Individuals, Early Rounds

Laguna Blanca School fielded the 11-1 senior doubles team of Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond as the #1 seed in the tournament. As such, they were the last doubles team to take the courts on what was an unusually mild May day in Ojai, where Villanova played host.

Before Purkait and Richmond got to start their tournament, freshman/junior combo Keanu Nakamura/Ben Rodgers opened play as the #4 seed (5-1 in league play). Their seeding resulted in a very tough first-round match-up against Cate #3 singles player Will Vanica and freshman standout doubles player Ethan Bloom.

The fourth-seeded Owls team came through with a decisive 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Cate team, leading the entire match. This set up a semifinal clash with the only undefeated team in the draw, Foothill Tech’s #1 doubles team. Meanwhile, Laguna Blanca’s singles entrants Kai Suzuki and Aden Meisel fought gamely in the play-in round, but were unable to defeat their opponents in 8-game pro-sets.

Meisel got off to a rough start, dropping three games quickly, before changing strategies and taking four of the next nine games to lose 4-8. Suzuki played very well in the early-going, taking a 6-3 lead over Foothill Tech’s James Sokoloski, but the Laguna junior struggled to close the match out and faded to a 6-8 loss.

TVL Individuals, Later Rounds

Purkait and Richmond won their quarterfinal match against the Villanova #1 doubles team 6-4, 6-4, but looked far from their dominant regular-season best. This manifested itself again in their semifinal match against #3-seeded Cate seniors Lucian Prinz and Michael Armstrong, who they had defeated early in the season.

After taking a 5-2 lead in the first set, the Owls senior duo struggled with execution, seeing the Cate team recover for a 7-5 win and go up 5-2 in the second. Purkait and Richmond rallied to 4-5, but could not force the third set from Prinz and Armstrong, who closed the match out with a hold-of-serve.

Nakamura and Rodgers faced a stiff challenge from the top Foothill Tech team, who would go on to become this year’s league champions with a win over Prinz/Armstrong. The team of Pascal Hayward and Eesh Manwani played a very loud and aggressive style, and though the Laguna boys pushed Hayward and Manwani with many excellent points, they eventually fell 6-4, 6-3.

TVL Individuals, Laguna v. Laguna

The proceedings of Day One of the Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament led to a matchup between the two Laguna teams for 3rd place in league and the final All-League First-Team designation.

Played at Furukawa Tennis Gardens on the Laguna Blanca campus, 3rd place match saw a resurgence from Nic Richmond and Ryan Purkait, who reversed a loss from earlier in the week to their younger teammates in practice. The seniors regained their best tennis to defeat Rodgers and Nakamura by a final score of 6-4, 6-1.

The result is Richmond and Purkait picking up All-League First-Team honors for the first time as they move on to college, while Rodgers and Nakamura get their first All-League Second-Team honors. Certainly the younger duo will be in the mix for future Tri-Valley League honors.

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!

Laguna Moves to 6-1 with Wins over Nordhoff, Carpinteria, and Orcutt Academy

Laguna Blanca Boys Tennis 2017-3

The Owls have been proving that this season is more than just a rebuilding operation. Despite having not a single starting senior in the lineup, Laguna has steadily worked its way into relevance by defeating six-of-seven teams faced so far in the 2017 season. Here are the match recaps for the last three wins:

Laguna v. Orcutt Academy (12-6)

Laguna faced a lineup-stack from Orcutt, which translated to a sweep from Coast Union at #1 doubles. They also picked up some wins at the #2 doubles spot, but failed to draw blood in nine sets of singles play. Alex Furukawa, Kai Nakamura, and Conor Scheinberg lost just 5 of 59 games played in singles action.

Laguna benefitted greatly from two wins from Jason Barnick and Victor Liu, who recovered well after stumbling early against the Orcutt’s #1’s. Kovid Mishra’s killer backhand (pictured above) and Kevin Khodabandehlou’s steady play provided an additional set win (6-0 against Orcutt’s #3 doubles team).

Laguna @ Carpinteria (10-8)

The Owls had a very tight match with the Warriors from Carpinteria, with the edge going to Laguna through superior singles play. Alex Furukawa swept (6-1, 6-0, 6-0) and Victor Liu and Kai Nakamura each added two set wins. Victor Liu played his best match as an Owl, fighting deep into his second-round match against Carp’s second best player to pull out a 7-5 victory.

Doubles struggled against Carpinteria’s top two teams, unable to take a single set, but got by the Carp #3’s with relative ease to provide the three sets needed to clinch the match without counting up games.

Laguna v. Nordhoff (13-5)

Singles play was led again by junior Alex Furukawa, who won his sets 6-2, 6-0, 6-0. Freshman Kai Nakamura added a 6-2, 7-5, 6-0 sweep of his own. Alex and Kai were super-solid all day long. Nordhoff’s top two players were both very consistent, but our guys broke them down with a combination of steadiness and willingness to go on the attack at the right moments.

The Rangers’ top doubles pairing Mikel Elizalde and Elias Simon eked out a tight 7-5 tie-break win in the first round against Laguna’s Victor Liu and Jason Barnick en-route to a sweep on the day. Laguna won all the remaining doubles sets, with two wins from Liu/Barnick and another four wins spread across four doubles combinations including players: John-Henry Schulz, Kelvin Chen, Rhami Zeini, Kovid Mishra, Peter Smith, and Jack Stein.

Laguna, now 6-1, will face Oxnard/Pacifica High School at home on Thursday. The Owls dropped an 8-10 decision against Pacifica last year while playing short several players, but will look to flip the script with a full lineup this time around. Laguna will also face the Thacher school next Tuesday before the beginning of Spring Break.

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