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Valencia tennis gets the respect, others don’t

West Ranch and Hart begin playoffs in wild card round

Posted: November 10, 2008 10:38 p.m.
Updated: November 11, 2008 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch No. 1 Ana Lucia Fuentes seen in a file photo from their matchup with Hart on Oct. 30.

 
It came as no surprise to Valencia girls tennis head coach Annie Kellogg that her Vikings team was highly positioned in the CIF-Southern Section Division III brackets - released Monday.

The team sat near the top of the CIF polls all season and currently holds the No. 2 spot.

However, what did come as a surprise, was the other two teams in the Foothill League - Hart and West Ranch - landed in the wild card bracket.

West Ranch finished No. 2 in league behind the Vikings and Hart finished third.

"I don't understand how CIF figures those things out," Kellogg said. "(Hart and West Ranch) played us very well. I guess they think the strength of the league is down. But it is what it is."

Hart will travel to LaQuinta High today and take on the Blackhawks, who finished third in the Garden Grove League. Second-place West Ranch hosts Paso Robles, the PAC 7 League's No. 3 finisher.

Should Hart win, it would play San Luis Obispo in the first round.

West Ranch would have to play No. 1 seeded Valencia of Placentia.

Valencia will face the winner of today's wild card matchup between Santiago of Corona and Sultana on Thursday.

The biggest question mark on this Valencia team is whether it can get over the playoff hump.

The Vikings have made three consecutive Division III finals appearances, coming up short in all three.

The last two seasons, Valencia lost to Chadwick of Palos Verdes. The year prior, the Vikings lost to Brentwood.

But Kellogg said aside from talent, sometimes it's just the luck of the draw.

"There's a lot of good teams and I think partly it's what you have on your team and the other part is what's out there in the field," Kellogg said.

Kellogg has loaded the team's schedule with tough opponents all season to prepare for a higher level of competition come playoff time.

One of those teams was undefeated Rio Mesa, which Valencia faced on Friday.

The two teams were supposed to meet on Oct. 13 but had to reschedule after Kellogg was evacuated from her home due to recent fires.

Valencia broke the Spartans win streak Friday with a nine-all tie that went in Valencia's favor with a 76-69 total games win. "It was a playoff-type atmosphere," Kellogg said.

Kellogg likes her team's chances of making a run in the playoffs, but said the squad will have to take its game to the next level in order to remain contenders.

"We had a good showing on Friday and I think we have to bring the level of play up another notch." she said. "We have to focus on consistency, patience and just play smart tennis."

So what will it take for the Vikings to get over the hump?
"To win one of these things, we have to have everyone play out of their mind and play incredibly well." Kellogg said. "We have positioned ourselves in a good spot, but we got to go out and get it done."

wmcneal@the-signal.com


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