San Marino High School varsity girls’ tennis coach Melwin Pereira knew what he needed from his team against host Thousand Oaks Westlake in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal match on Monday.
“I knew where my points were going to come from,” Pereira said. “We already knew [Westlake’s] singles are strong. They’re very similar to La Cañada with three strong singles. We needed our doubles to get those points.”
Unfortunately for Pereira, it was the Warriors’ doubles players who rose to the occasion and won four of nine sets to edge the Titans, 10-8.
“I do not know what happened,” said Pereira, whose team finished the season with an overall record of 11-5. “I was expecting our No. 1 or No. 2 doubles to beat their No. 1, but it didn’t happen. We just didn’t play very well. We didn’t deserve to win because the other team was better. It was their home and they wanted it more. They had good energy and a good cheering squad.”
San Marino No. 1 doubles Katie Kirkendall and Elaine Wu and No. 2 duo Caitlin Nguyen and Rakel Ang won two of three sets but were unable to pick up a win over Rachael Sherill and Emma Victor.
Pereira was hoping one of his doubles teams would upset Westlake’s duo but Sherill and Victor came away with a sweep, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
“That match was huge for us,” Pereira said. “Elaine had issues with her wrist and she’s a freshman. Katie had issues on her serve. We really needed to battle to get a win.”
Grace Carter and Kayla Chen contributed one doubles victory, and Anessa Lee, San Marino’s lone ranked player, won all three of her singles matches, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Despite the tough, disappointing loss at Westlake, the Titans had a remarkable season with a young, inexperienced squad.
They managed to win the Rio Hondo League championship and defeated Orange Lutheran and San Clemente in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“No matter what, I’m so proud of the girls,” Pereira said. “I didn’t expect this. We truly were a team this year and played as a team. I felt like we did that. When you play as a team, it’s so different because you’re feeding off the energy of your teammates.”
The season is over for all but three Titans. Lee won the Rio Hondo League singles tournament and duo Rakel Ang and Katie Kirkendall placed second in the doubles tourney. All three qualified for the CIF-SS Individual Tournament, which will be played on Monday, Nov. 19.
“That will be my focus now,” Pereira said. “I will be there for those players, but I really do think Anessa has a shot of winning CIF.”