Top-notch singles seem to define high school tennis, but if you really want to know how strong a team is, look to its doubles teams.
A team with good depth will give a top-heavy singles team a run for its money almost every time. In a race to four wins, sweeping all three doubles matches makes the singles less important.
So while the El Camino girls’ tennis team was strong at its first two singles spots, it was Sequoia’s strength in the doubles that carried the Ravens to an important early-season victory in the PAL Ocean Division.
Sequoia co-head coach Ed Adams said he knew the Colts were strong at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, but when he saw El Camino struggled against a team his Ravens had beaten easily, he believed his team had a shot at staying undefeated in division play.
“Right now, the season is looking good,” Adams said. “We don’t have a dominant three singles players … but I think our team has a little more depth.”
That was evident as Sequoia’s three doubles teams combined to lose only six games as all won in straight sets. The No. 3 doubles team of Nora Woolley and Zara Ashan were the most dominant with a 6-0, 6-0 victory — even though their match was the last one on the court as Sequoia has only five usable courts.
The No. 2 doubles team of Olivia Benton and Aslyssa Avila clinched the team-winning fourth point with a 6-2, 6-2 decision. Jessica Martin and Tara Ashan set the tone, capturing their No. 1 doubles match, 6-0, 6-2, giving the Ravens their first team point of the day.
“In girls’ tennis, there is very little emphasis on volleys,” Adams said. “If you can teach them to volley and play at the net, you can win. And we’ve been working on doubles and our volleying technique.”
The finish for Sequoia (3-0 PAL Ocean) offset the beginning of the match for El Camino (2-1) as the Colts dominated at the top two singles spots. Raiselle Kyaw picked up El Camino’s first point with her 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles. Teammate Sophia Clemente wasn’t very far behind, winning her match in straight sets.
Clemente was cruising in the first set, up 5-0, before Sequoia’s Mary Jane Hartman made a little run, holding her serve twice and breaking Clemente, who still prevailed 6-3.
In the second set, Clemente jumped out early and did not let Hartman back in, winning 6-1.
After Martin and Tara Ashan gave the Ravens their first point, No. 3 singles player Ciara Murman gave them the singles win the team needed, winning 6-4, 6-1.
The first set went back and forth, with JoAnn Lee holding an early 2-1 lead. Murman rallied to win two straight games for a 3-2 advantage. Leading 5-4, Murman came up with break to win the first set. In the second, Murman dropped only one game.
With the match already clinched, attention turned to the No. 4 singles match, which turned out to be the best of the day with El Camino’s Amy Yip winning a super tiebreak in the third set.
Both Yip and Sequoia’s Sadie Ha see-sawed in the opening set. Ha had leads of 5-4 and 6-5, but Yip forced a tiebreaker, during which Ha prevailed, 7-4.
In the second set, Yip got an early break to propel her to a 6-3 victory.
With the team match already decided, a super tiebreaker was used in lieu of a set. There were eight ties and Yip led only once, 9-8, and was on match point when her volley could not be handled by Ha, giving Yip a 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, (12-10) victory.
But it wasn’t quite enough for the Colts.
“I think we showed a little more depth,” Adams said.