Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Hillsdale’s Cindy Liu hits a return on the run during her 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Carlmont’s Cori Sidel to give the Knights a 4-3 win over the Scots. The win keeps Hillsdale undefeated in PAL Bay Division play, while handing Carlmont its first league loss of the season.
It was only appropriate the Hillsdale-Carlmont girls’ tennis match was decided by one point.
After all, the two teams entered the contest with identical 5-0 records in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play.
And after nearly two hours of play, it was Hillsdale that pulled out a slim 4-3 victory over Carlmont, relying on the formula the Knights have used to get to this point in the season: sweep the four singles matches.
While most of the match went to form — the Knights won the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles matches, while the Scots swept the three doubles matches — the final match on the court was No. 1 singles, that saw Carlmont’s Cori Sidel push Hillsdale’s Cindy Liu to the brink. Liu, who had not been tested all season, dropped her first set of PAL play this season, but rallied to win the final two sets to pull out a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
“Cori played really well,” Liu said. “I was proud I was able to get through it, even though I wasn’t playing my best.”
Sidel came out swinging and, before you knew it, she was up 5-0 in the first set. Liu won two straight games, but Sidel closed out the set when Liu dumped a shot into the net.
“It was hard (for me) to get started and [Sidel] started off aggressively,” Liu said. “I noticed in the second set she started to tighten up and started missing more (shots) and that gave me confidence.”
The two stayed on serve through the first three games of the second set, before Liu broke Sidel to go up 3-1. Liu eventually built a 4-1 lead, but Sidel battled back and closed to 5-4.
Line judges were called before the 10th game after a couple of close calls were questioned. With Sidel serving to stay in the set, the two battled to 40-all. Sidel served to Liu and, during the rally, Liu hit a volley that was close to the line. No one called the ball in or out and the line judges were not asked.
Point and set to Liu to force a deciding third set.
The third set was all Liu, who broke Sidel in the sixth game to go up 4-2 and then broke her again to win 6-2 and give Hillsdale the team win.
“We came in knowing it would be a very tough match to win,” said Carlmont coach Amina Halsey. “I think [Sidel] played well, but she got tentative in the second and third sets, so that’s something we’ll work on.”
The rest of the match pretty much went by the book. Carlmont (5-1 Bay Division) picked up the day’s first point at No. 3 doubles, where Julia Mirande and Sydney Cho cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Hillsdale got its first point at No. 3 singles, where Mariko Iinuma won 6-0, 6-0 as well.
The Scots’ second point came at No. 1 doubles where Cassidy Sobey and Morgan Watson won 6-1, 6-2. Michelle Guan and Zoe Wildman completed the doubles sweep for the Scots at No. 2, winning 6-1, 6-3.
Natalie Spievack gave the Knights their second point with a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles and No. 4 singles player Irene Palisoc tied the team match at 3-all with her 6-1, 6-2 win.
That set up the dramatic finish at No. 1 singles.
Iinuma, who also serves as the Knights’ captain, knows her team walks a fine line, having to depend on the four singles players to sweep their opponents to give her team a chance to win.
But considering all four are still undefeated in league play, Iinuma likes her team’s chances.
“It’s sometimes stressful because if one of the singles loses, we could lose the match,” Iinuma said. “But I have a lot of confidence in our singles.
“We knew Carlmont was a good team. … But we’ve been undefeated so I really wanted to win (Wednesday).”