The road to the CIF Division 4 final was a most improbable one for Flintridge Prep. A squad consisting of one senior and seven underclassmen proved that no matter the makeup of the team, you can never count each player out.
The Wolves battled but unfortunately the Cinderella story came to an end for Coach Roger Hollomand’s unranked squad as they fell were edged by Beverly Hills High, 72-71 on points via the tiebreaker (after tying 9-9 on sets won).
Flintridge Prep (10-4 record) got quality performances from its No. 1 and No. 2 singles players, freshman Katarina Zirn and sophomore Chloe Liao. Zirn went 6-2, 6-3, 3-6 in her three sets, showcasing a strong serve and a quality backhand attack. Liao was able to help her teammate in the running score as she went 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 in her games.
“I knew that I should have taken some time to settle down and reset myself. I should have gotten the extra ball to take some time to regroup,” Zirn said.
Meanwhile, Wolves freshman No. 3 Nicole Lee was shut out in all of her sets.
In doubles, it came down to the tiebreaker for Flintridge Prep’s No. 1 tandem of senior Jacqueline Hsu and junior Manya Lalwani. The two dropped their first set 2-6, but rebounded to win 6-2 to put pressure on Beverly Hills.
Then in the final doubles match of the day – the match-deciding set for the CIF championship – with Hsu and Lalwani playing Beverly Hills’ No. 2 doubles team of Maya Goldkorn and Lola Eustace. Beverly Hills (11-6) took a commanding 5-1 lead in the set but the Wolves didn’t go away quietly. Prep’s Hsu and Lalwani regrouped and fought back to tie the set at 5-5.
At a break, Coach Hollomond rallied his doubles players to try and keep them composed. “I told them to please stay positive, stay steady, keep the ball in play and don’t go for too much and play your game,” he said.
Both battled but the power of Eustace’s forehand proved to be too much as Flintridge Prep dropped the set, 7-5.
After the match, Hollomond huddled around his team – smiling and beaming with pride of how pleased he was with his girls’ run through the playoffs. “It was so close, the girls did so well,” he said. “I can’t complain about anything; nobody even expected us to make this kind of run in this postseason.”