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’Cats break the streak

Valencia’s 56-match Foothill League win streak ends

Posted: October 22, 2009 10:10 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2009 4:30 a.m.

West Ranch's Lena Poonnapatam, left, and doubles teammate Salene Scamardo anticipate the tennis ball at West Ranch High Thursday.

It wasn’t exactly David vs. Goliath, but a tennis giant definitely took a fall.

Or maybe it just got some company.

West Ranch girls tennis handed Valencia its first Foothill League loss since Oct. 7, 2003. It was a winning streak that lasted 56 matches.

West Ranch didn’t even exist when Burbank edged the Vikings 10-8 that day, and dating back to 2002, the Vikings (12-4, 6-1) have enjoyed a streak of seven straight league titles.

With A 10-8 win of their own on Thursday, the Wildcats (6-4, 5-1) may have just earned themselves a piece of that coveted prize this season.

The significance of the streak was not lost on West Ranch tennis head coach Eric Spiecker after the record-breaking win.

“(Valencia head coach) Annie Kellogg has built the most powerful dynasty of any sport in the Santa Clarita Valley,” Spiecker said. “Unless you can find a (team) that hasn’t lost anything for six years in a row,” he asked rhetorically.

“You just don’t get to play a team like that very often. To beat a team that is that well-coached, with those players that can dig in ... I just have to hand it to my girls. They dug in deep when they needed to.”

For West Ranch, the win was more than payback for the team’s 12-6 loss to Valencia on Oct. 6.

For a few of the players, the win was an achievement of one of the goals set at the beginning of the season.

“Mallory (Martin) and I have been talking about this forever,” said True O’Neill, who’s partnered with Martin for West Ranch’s No. 1 doubles team. “We were out there playing in the dark yesterday, I mean we were practicing hard. We worked so hard for this.”

O’Neill and Martin, who lost to Andrea Zammit and Chelsie Dietz the last time the two teams played, managed to pick up a 6-2 win that gave the Vikings’ No. 1 doubles team its only loss in Foothill League play this season.

It was the first success of a three-part mission for O’Neill.

“First, to beat the No. 1 doubles team. We lost a tough match to them last time. The second one was to sweep, to get all three (sets). The third was just to beat Valencia overall,” O’Neill said.     

Check, check and check.

Ironically, the Wildcats carved out a spot for themselves near the top of the Foothill League the way Valencia had beaten so many opponents before them — with all-around depth.

And it was close all the way through.

Tied at 7-7, the match looked to be decided by an epic battle between West Ranch’s Ana Lucia Fuentes and Valencia’s Emily Fraczek.

By the time Fuentes took a 5-4 lead, Salene Scamardo and Lena Poonnapatam picked up the Wildcats’ ninth point to go with its six-point lead in games, making the Fuentes-Fraczek matchup irrelevant.

Fuentes ended up winning 6-4.

“West Ranch fought hard,” Kellogg said. “It was their court and they really wanted it. We got a little bit taken out of our game with the lobs, and the kids were playing a little nervous.

“It is what it is,” she continued. “We took it to them and they came back. If they take care of all of their matches and we take care of all of our matches, then next week we’ll both be 9-1 and co-champions. I never thought we’d have (the streak) that long. But there it is. They have some quality players.”



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