Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Despite playing a severly sprained ankle, Hillsdale’s Mariko Iinuma gutted out a 6-2, 6-3 win with partner Kathy Li at No. 1 doubles to help the Knights advance to the CCS tournament with a 5-2 victory over Aragon.
With its first chance to earn a berth into the Central Coast Section girls’ tennis team tournament since 2006, Hillsdale captain Mariko Iinuma was determined to do everything in her power to make it happen.
So despite seriously spraining her left ankle during a United States Tennis Association tournament over the weekend, Iinuma, normally the Knights’ No. 3 singles player, joined Kathy Li in the No. 1 doubles spot against Aragon Wednesday afternoon.
Iinuma, a junior, kept alive her unbeaten streak in Peninsula Athletic League play, as she and Li secured a 6-2, 6-3 win over Aragon’s Magali De Sauvage and Melissa Ma to clinch the team match as the Knights went on to beat Aragon 5-2 and qualify for the CCS team tournament.
“I really wanted to play to help the team win,” Iinuma said. “I was really looking forward to going to CCS as a team. The best part of high school tennis is going (to the playoffs) as a team.”
Despite being told by her doctor not to play, Iinuma put a splint on the injured joint and limped around the court. She thanked Li for helping her pick up the slack as Iinuma could barely move around the court.
“[Li] really helped me a lot,” Iinuma said. “I was at the corner of whether I should play or not. [Playing] might affect me in the long run.
“[The ankle is] really swollen, with internal bleeding and stuff.”
Having played each other in the regular-season finale Tuesday, Aragon coach Linda Brown said she tried to switch up her doubles team to better take advantage of Iinuma’s injury — which she said was the only bonus of playing the same team twice in as many days.
Brown took her No. 4 singles player, Melissa Ma, and moved her to No. 1 doubles with de Sauvage, hoping to pick up a win there.
“Melissa Ma is a very good doubles person,” Brown said. “[Hillsdale is] so solid at singles you have to do something in doubles.”
The Knights’ domination at singles was stunted a bit as they were without their regular No. 3 and No. 4 singles players. But what Hillsdale lost in singles, it made up for in doubles. In addition to Iinuma’s win at No. 1 doubles, No. 4 singles player Irene Palisoc teamed with Anne Okada at No. 2 doubles and won 6-2, 6-3.
Hannah Bodin and Mai Bahn gave the Knights a rare doubles sweep as they won 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles.
As usual, Hillsdale had an easy time at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, where Cindy Liu and Natalie Spievack, respectively, each won in straight sets. Liu cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win, while Spievack won her match 6-2, 6-2.
Aragon’s two wins came from Aislinn Oka at No. 3 singles, 6-0, 6-0, and Sagrika Jawadi at No. 4 singles, 6-3, 6-3.
Jawadi was making her first appearance in a singles match after spending the season as part of the No. 2 doubles team for the Dons.
Despite playing the same team twice in two days, Hillsdale coach Jackie Nachtigall said she wasn’t too concerned.
“I wasn’t nervous much today,” Nachtigall said. “I have confidence in my players.”
Carlmont 7, Mills 0
Joining Hillsdale in the CCS tournament are the Scots, who cruised to a win over the Vikings in the PAL’s other CCS qualifying match.
Both Carlmont and Hillsdale finished as co-champions of the PAL Bay Division, so both had to win matches Wednesday to advance to the section tournament.
Carlmont coach Amina Halsey said she was missing a pair of starters Wednesday, but it didn’t affect the Scots in the sweep of the Ocean Division champs.
“This is the third year in a row [we’ve] qualified for CCS (as a team),” Halsey said. “But this is the first time the team has ever won a PAL Bay Division title. That’s kind of big for them.”
Halsey said her biggest concern going into Wednesday’s match was to make sure her team did not embarrass the Vikings — who were once a Bay Division power playing in the Ocean Division for the first time this season.
“At no point do we want to make another team feel bad,” Halsey said. “So I reminded them before the match, ‘You are expected to win, but you are also expected to be polite.’ I was pleased to see the girls do that.
“I think the girls had a good time with that. It was nice to have a relaxed match and have fun. It wasn’t a huge, competitive match where everyone was really worried.”