When Ed Adams and Cici Louie took over the Sequoia girls’ tennis program this season, all they knew about the Ravens was they finished second in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division.
“I had no idea (what to expect) because I haven’t been involved with the league,” Adams said.
After a second-place finish the previous season, the next logical step was first place — which Sequoia accomplished. The Ravens swept visiting Mills Tuesday to capture the Ocean Division championship, their first since 2003.
“I was born in 2003,” said Sadie Ha, Sequoia’s No. 4 singles player who won a three-set match over Mills’ Vananh Tran. “The team knew (about the 16-year championship drought). … In the back of our heads, we said, ‘Let’s win this thing.’”
Coming into Tuesday’s matches, Sequoia had a three-game lead over second-place Terra Nova with three matches to play in the regular season. The Ravens would have to lose all three and Tigers win all three to forge a co-title.
The Ravens left no doubt, however, as they topped the Vikings. Ciara Murman got the ball rolling with a quick 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 singles and was quickly followed by MJ Hartman at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-1.
“They’ve been like clockwork,” Adams said.
The Ravens’ No. 3 doubles team of Nora Woolley and Zara Ahsan — the last match on the court — stayed undefeated on the season and clinched the championship point with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Mills, however, did not go down without a fight. The Vikings forced a trio of matches to three sets — with Mills winning the first set in all three.
But their Ravens counterparts rallied.
Ha took a first-set lead, 4-1, at No. 4 singles before Tran came roaring back. She won four straight games to take a 5-4 lead, but Ha battled herself into a first-set tiebreak. Tied at 4-all in the tiebreak, Tran won three of the last four points to take the first set.
But Ha took game up a notch. She blitzed Tran in the second set, 6-0, and then jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third.
There would be no repeat of the first set, however. After Ha was broken by Tran to close to 5-3, Ha returned the favor to close out a 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-3 victory.
The Vikings’ No. 1 and No. 2 doubles also won the first set in their matches. Ai Toyama and Jocelyn Quach took a 5-2 lead in a first-set tiebreaker on their way to a 7-6 (7-4), first-set win.
But Sequoia’s tandem of Jessica Martin and Tara Ahsan picked up service breaks in each of the next two sets to post a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 victory.
At No. 2 doubles, Mills’ Alexis Situ and Cayenne Wong won the first set 6-4, but the Sequoia duo of Olivia Benton and Alyssa Avila tied the match with a 6-4 second-set victory. With the team match decided, a super tiebreaker was used in lieu of a third set, which Benton and Avila won 11-9.
It was the first match Benton and Avila played together since a three-set win over Oceana Oct. 3. Since then, Adams and Louie have had to juggle their doubles lineup, which proved to be the team’s strength.
“What I found out (this season) is our depth kept us in it,” Adams said. “We had more depth at doubles than other teams.”
Sarah Stampleman rounded out the sweep with a 6-0, 7-5 win at No. 1 singles.
While the goal of winning a division title has been reached, there is still plenty for which the Ravens to play. The next goal on the list is to finish the Ocean Division season a perfect 14-0.
“We’re on a undefeated streak, so we wanted to keep that going,” Ha said.
The Ravens also have a shot at making the Central Coast Section playoffs — but it is a long shot. By winning the Ocean title, it puts the Ravens into the PAL team tournament, which will determine the PAL’s second playoff bid. Menlo-Atherton, the Bay Division champion for the sixth straight year, earned the PAL’s automatic bid to CCS and will not play in the PAL tournament. The Ravens would need to beat a pair of Bay Division teams in the team tournament to clinch the league’s second automatic CCS berth.
After that, Adams and Louie are just looking to build on what the team accomplished this season.
“I want to stay in this league and develop the program,” Adams said.