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Foothill tennis: Wildcats take a giant step

With win over Valencia, West Ranch sets course for league title

Posted: October 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch tennis player Julia Lynch returns a shot on Thursday against Valencia High on Thursday at West Ranch High.

The West Ranch girls tennis team solidified its position as the front runner for what would be its first outright Foothill League title with a 10-8 victory over rival Valencia on Thursday afternoon at West Ranch High.

After finishing tied atop the league standings with the Vikings each of the last two years, the Wildcats (11-0, 6-0) completed their first-ever season sweep of Valencia (5-7, 3-2), which has won at least a share of the league title in each of the last nine seasons.

The Wildcats received a huge boost from freshman No. 1 singles player Julia Lynch, who had her best match of the season sweeping three sets, including a 6-3 victory over Valencia’s No. 1 singles player Brigitta Benitez to start the match.

Lynch would add a 6-1 and 6-0 victory in her next two sets.

“I think it set the tone for me,” Lynch said. “After I won (against Benitez) I felt like I could do anything. Like I was invincible.”

Benitez, though, didn’t let the loss linger as she battled back in her second set with West Ranch No. 2 Ana Cecilia
Fuentes, defeating her 7-6 (8-6) in a tie break.

Benitez would finish the match with two wins (3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0).

Fuentes matched the feat with two victories for the Wildcats (7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-0).

Things were just as even on the doubles side, with West Ranch’s No. 1 doubles team of Lena Poonnopatam and Gabrielle Morici finishing 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 with its only loss coming to Valencia’s No. 1 tandem of Shenelle Trujillo and Michelle Savage, who also won two of their three matches 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Just like in the first meeting of the season between the two teams on Sept. 22, the score was tied 6-6 entering the final round of play.

Unlike in the previous match, though, it was West Ranch that held a games lead going into the final round.

The Wildcats eventually won that match 78-77 in games.

But the Wildcats didn’t let it get to that point.

West Ranch took four points in the final round from Lynch and Fuentes in singles and Poonnopatam and Morici, and Jordyn Jaffe and MacKenzie Lyle in doubles.

And while the Wildcats put on a great all-around performance, it was Lynch who had perhaps the biggest impact on the win.

And it all started with defeating Benitez.

“It was good to see (Lynch) win,” said West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker. “The team needed that and she needed that.
For Valencia, the goal now is to turn its attention toward today’s match with Saugus, as the Vikings try to ensure a top two finish in league play.

“We’ve just got to go play,” said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. “Even in the pros ... they don’t win everything. There’s always an opportunity the next day.”


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