Having lost three of its top four players to graduation, including Central Section singles champion Gracie Jacobs, the Garces girls tennis team expected this to be a rebuilding year.
Ditto for Liberty, which no longer has the services of four of its best eight players from a year ago.
Regardless of all the turnover, both teams demonstrated that they'll be just fine this season as the Rams edged the Patriots 5-4 Tuesday at the Garces Tennis Complex.
"I am very happy with the way we played," Garces coach Barb Johnston said. "We played hard. It was a close match. I think both teams are kind of in a rebuilding year. To come out with a win against Liberty is good for us."
After splitting the six singles matches, Garces (2-1) took two of three in doubles for the win.
"This is a good team that we played, so to do as well as we did with our younger players, I'm pretty happy with that," Liberty coach Stephanie Ollivier said.
Anastasia Drulias and Riley Tucker, the Rams' No. 1 and No. 2 players, respectively, were the only multiple winners.
Drulias, a freshman, edged Isabella Busacca 6-3, 7-5 in singles. Later in doubles she teamed with Garces No. 3 Moira Morales to beat Busacca and her twin sister Sophia Busacca, 6-4, 6-3.
Tucker posted a 6-2, 6-3 singles win over Sophia Busacca before pairing up with Bridget Boylan to top Chelsea Falk and Madison Mills, 6-2, 6-2 in doubles.
At No. 5 singles, Garces' Shea Andrew downed Kiley Fernandez, 6-3, 6-2.
Falk, and freshman twin sisters Taylor Cooke and Emma Cooke were singles winners for the Patriots.
Leanne Park and Ayer Jue gave Liberty its final victory, 7-6, 6-7, 10-6 decision over Nina Tumulak and Lauren Smith.
The No. 1 singles match between Drulias and Isabella Busacca proved to be a test of skill and will for nearly two hours.
After losing the first set, Busacca grabbed a 3-2 lead in the second. But it turned into a see-saw battle with each seizing momentum, then losing it.
Drulias won 12 of 14 points to quickly turn a 3-2 second-set deficit into a 5-3 lead. Busacca rallied to win the next two games.
But seemingly worn down from the long match and struggling with her serve, the Liberty senior couldn't hold off her spry challenger any longer after that. "I think we were just going back-and-forth, back-and-forth playing well and then playing each other's weaknesses," Busacca said.