It was a feeling déjà vu for Maranatha High School girls’ tennis coach Arthur Hsieh, who could not help but have the Minutemen’s 2014 championship run in the back of his mind.
“There were so many parallels,” Hsieh said. “That year was the last time we beat Mayfield Senior, and we beat them this year. The playoff scheduling was similar and the scoring was very close to those in 2014.”
The outcome also turned out to be the same for No. 2-seeded Maranatha as it upset No. 1 Riverside Woodcrest Christian, 12-6, at the Claremont Club to win the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship.
Hsieh, who also coaches the boys’ team, guided Maranatha to its second CIF-SS title in the program’s history and the Minutemen’s first crown since 2014.
“I’ve done it learning from experience,” Hsieh said. “After losing the boys’ tennis final in 2017, I learned a lot. Preparation comes from before and inside. The champion is developed on the inside, and when you get to that level and moment, you will be ready to produce your best.”
The Minutemen (18-2 overall record) were certainly at their best from the get-go, winning five of the first six sets.
“It’s been that way the whole playoffs,” Hsieh said. “What we noticed when we get to an early lead is that it places enormous pressure on the other side.”
The Royals (16-4 overall) managed to pick up more victories in the second round of matches but wasn’t able to chip away at Maranatha’s lead.
The clincher came down to Maranatha No. 1 singles Madison Kane, who was squaring off with Evelyn Bob. The standout player didn’t disappoint and defeated her opponent, 6-1, and to help the Minutemen bring home another CIF plaque.
“Woodcrest Christian is no joke this year,” Kane said. “There’s a reason they’re the top team. Thank the Lord we came through.”
Kane relished the opportunity of securing the victory for Maranatha, a moment she’d been waiting for since joining the program and school this year.
“I love pressure,” she said. “It sounds crazy, but I want to be the one to determine what happens. I want to win it.”
She swept her opponents, 6-0, 6-0, 6-1, as did Maranatha’s No. 1 and 2 doubles teams. Michael Wilkins and Aria Haver-Hill came through with three set victories, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, and Amanda Yee and Georgia Wilder picked up a big win in first round of matches, edging Woodcrest Christian’s No. 2 doubles, Megan Lansing and Kaden Richards, 7-5. The Maranatha duo went on to win their final two matches, and Rose Zhang and Shuhan Yang contributed one doubles win. Malena Smith and Stella Wang each won a singles set.
Hsieh said the team bought into the hard work and dedication required when Kane arrived, but the junior credits her teammates for making the transition into high school tennis a smooth one.
“They truly are the best team,” Kane said. “They could not have been more supportive. We were always there for each other, making sure we can be at our best, especially Jasmine Chiu, Fay Sheng and Molly Mittelberg. They were our subs and they were so supportive and amazing all year long and have improved so much. I just love the dynamic of this team and being a part of it.”
The team has been one of the best squads in the area all season, but the girls didn’t find their motivation to win it all until the postseason.
“It was in the second round against [Hesperia] Sultana,” Kane said. “One of the alumni who won in 2014 named Reagan [Atallah] came to the match and had her CIF ring. We wanted that. We realized that we had to win this now. We worked too hard for this.”
The Hsieh family also worked hard to win another championship. Hsieh and his wife Sandra, who is the assistant coach and develops inexperienced players, delivered the program’s first CIF-SS title in 2014 behind the stellar play of their daughter, Angela, who came on as an assistant coach this year.
“One of the most special things has been being able to do this together with my wife, day in and day out,” Hsieh said. “I mean, what other husband and wife coaching team is out there? What a gift. And to win CIF in 2014 with our daughter clinching the deciding point? Are you kidding me? This season was extra special because Angela came back to help coach. So I get to have my wife and daughter coaching with me. What a blessing.”