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Historic season ends for Hart tennis

Posted: November 13, 2013 8:42 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2013 8:42 p.m.

Hart's Bailey Sindle returns a shot against San Marino on Wednesday at Hart High School.

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It took 21 matches to happen, but the Hart Indians girls tennis team finally lost on Wednesday at Hart High School.

Locked in a tie halfway through their CIF-Southern Section Division II semifinal showdown with San Marino, the Indians dropped critical sets in singles, eventually falling 10-8 to the Titans and seeing their historic 2013 season come to a close.

“I thought Valencia was loud. Oh boy, these people went crazy for their team,” said Hart No. 1 singles player Natalia Munoz of the opposing fans. “I remember I whiffed on a ball and some guy went nuts. It was a hostile environment but it was pretty fun.”

Munoz captured one set win, 6-0 on the day.

Had Hart won it would have been the first Santa Clarita Valley tennis team to reach a CIF final since Valencia reached its fourth straight championship match in 2008.

Hart’s singles lineup had been dependably dominant all season, but on Wednesday, San Marino’s Devon Jack and Madeleine Gandawidjaja got the better of Munoz and teammate Proyfon Lohaphaisan.

With the two teams locked in a tight contest halfway through the second leg of matches, Munoz led Gandawidjaja 3-2 on the first court. On the third court, Lohaphaisan was up 3-1 on Jack.

With the wins, the Indians would have led 6-4 with Munoz and Lohaphaisan still left to play the Titans’ No. 3 slot.

But in a complete break from what had been the trend all season, Munoz and Lohaphaisan were unable to close out the must-win sets.

Gandawidjaja downed Munoz 6-3, and Jack fought back to put away Lohaphaisan by the same score.

San Marino took a two-set lead and never gave it back.

“The first four games against her (Lohaphaisan) I made a lot of mistakes, I had done well when I’d played against her in the past, but she improved a lot and we noticed that right away,” said Jack, who swept 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. “Being down 1-3 my mindset changed, and I knew that I had to literally get every ball back, just stay in every point and not be the first one to miss a shot.”

Strategically speaking, the Indians (20-1) benefitted from Hart head coach Chris Mansfield’s decision to move No. 3 singles player Jackie Resler to doubles.

Resler and teammate Madi Ladanyi picked up two sets, while Hart’s senior anchors Lauren Dam and Bailey Sindle contributed two sets of their own.

Once again though, the Titans’ No. 1 unit was the difference maker, as San Marino seniors Vivian Le and Monique Gandawidjaja swept 6-0, 6-2, 6-0.

The Titans (14-2) are now headed to the Division II final against the undefeated No. 2 seed Canyon of Anaheim.

San Marino has not lost to a Divison II opponent all season — both of its losses came in preseason play to Division I powerhouses Peninsula and Campbell Hall.

To add perspective, both Peninsula and Campbell Hall reached the CIF-SS Division I semifinals, with Peninsula advancing to the title match.

As for the Indians — no Hart tennis team, boys or girls, has ever put together a more successful season than this year’s girls squad.

When asked about his experience coaching the team, Mansfield was succinct.

“Phenomenal,” he said.

It’s hard for one word to encapsulate a season as special as the one that the Indians girls tennis team had during the Fall 2013 semester.

Mansfield put it perfectly.

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