First published in the Sept. 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
It was guaranteed that the La Cañada High School girls’ tennis season would get off to a hot start hosting Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, because it was, literally, very hot outside.
“We almost had two opponents today: the heat and Sacred Heart,” La Cañada coach Will Moravec said.
On the court, it was the Spartans who put together, figuratively, a scorching performance, overwhelming intracity rival Flintridge Sacred Heart, 17-1, in nonleague action at LCHS.
“It was all good today. It went the way I hoped it would,” Moravec said.
The Tologs, who had a couple matches under their belts already, also had to deal with the heat Thursday afternoon, which hovered in the mid-90s throughout.
“I don’t want to blame the heat [for the loss], but today is a hot day,” Flintridge Sacred Heart coach Ron Zamberano said after the match.
LCHS (1-0 record) had one of the finest teams in Southern California last school year as it qualified for the CIF Southern California Open Division Tournament.
Given the acknowledged competitive disparity between the two programs, the results were not a complete surprise.
“I think I saw them trying as hard as they could,” Zamberano said of his Tologs players. “La Cañada is very, very good.”
While it may fall short of being a full-blown rivalry, the two schools try to play every season in what may be most properly labeled a friendly neighborhood matchup.
“We play Sacred Heart every year and this was a good one to get our feet wet,” Moravec said.
La Cañada’s Tsehay Driscoll, the Spartans’ No. 1 singles player, did her best to beat the heat by minimizing her time on the court. The dynamic junior quickly dispatched each of her opponents without a hiccup, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.
“I think my serve [was on]. I hit a lot of aces today,” Driscoll said. “My placement was good. I was hitting my points.”
In each rotation she was the first to finish, by a large margin.
“I kind of just wanted to get off [the court] so I could cheer my teammates on,” Driscoll said.
The first rotation, where the players match up against their equivalent rank on the other side, set the tone with La Cañada sweeping all six sets. Joining Driscoll with a win were No. 2 singles player Chia Matuska, over FSHA’s Ashley Hurjak 6-4, and No. 3 Lauren Kim, over Madison Wuu 6-1.
The hosts also swept the first round of doubles, with No. 1 team Allison Woo and Riley Thornburgh beating No. 1 Tolog pairing Lanna Megerdichian and MJ Von Der Ahe 6-2. The Spartans’ No. 2 tandem of Amanda Grabell and Kaylee Huang beat Tologs Amelie Kock and Christa Kudaverdian 6-3. The No. 3s matchup was La Cañada’s Natalie Son and Nicolle Sorensen putting away Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Grace Garrity and Natalie Oktanyan 6-2.
La Cañada would go on the sweep in the doubles part of the competition.
The lone point for Flintridge Sacred Heart (1-2 record) came on the second rotation of the singles, when Tolog No. 1 Meghan Garrity had a dominant outing against Matuska 6-1.
“It was very hot today, so to have a win was something,” Garrity said. “It was an accomplishment, especially with Matuska. She was a difficult player, very consistent, but I was happy to play against her and play my best.”
La Cañada played Thursday’s match without several of its top players. Four were missing due to playing in non-scholastic tournaments, injury and illness, which opened up opportunities for others.
Kim, a freshman, took full advantage. In addition to her opening 6-1 win, she took her second opponent 6-2 and finished by offing Garrity 6-2.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking at first because this is my first game [in high school] and I’m playing people who are older than me,” Kim said. “It was definitely really overwhelming, but it was really fun.”