The Garces girls tennis team wasted little time setting the tone in Monday afternoon’s Southwest Yosemite League showdown at Stockdale.
The Rams wanted the SWYL championship, and they were in no mood to share.
Garces won five of six singles matches to wrap up its second outright SWYL title in three years with a 7-2 victory over the Mustangs.
“We’ve worked hard and it’s nice to be able to see how hard work truly does payoff,” said Rams coach Barb Johnston-Hill, whose team shared the SWYL crown with Stockdale last year.
Garces (18-3, 10-0 in SWYL play) set the tone in the top three singles matches. Two-time BVarsity All-Area player of the year Alexsia Drulias cruised past the Mustangs No. 1 Greta Krueger, 6-1, 6-3, and junior Jackie Sala and freshman Kylee Limpias followed suit, winning 24 of the 27 games to give the Rams early 3-0 lead.
“I think we have some momentum as a team and we have the defending champion in the double realm … so it’s exciting,” said Johnston Hill, whose team will compete in the SWYL championships on Thursday and Friday at Bakersfield High, with the hopes of qualifying several individuals for the following week’s South Area tournament at Garces.
“It’s an exciting part of year.”
Stockdale, which had won 19 of the last 21 SWYL titles coming in, had its chances to climb back into the match at No. 4 and No. 5 singles, and No. 3 doubles, but only managed to win one of those matches.
Sierra Kent, a transfer from North, outlasted Jasmine Flores 10-4 in a tiebreaker at No. 4, and Garces’ held on for an 8-6 tiebreaker victory at No. 3 doubles.
Vandita Gorla provided the lone bright spot for the Mustangs with a 4-6, 6-3 (10-1) victory at No. 5 singles, until Krueger and Kierstin Anderson upset the pairing of Drulias and Jackie Sala at No. 1 doubles, 8-7 (8-6). Drulias and Sala are the defending Central Section Division I doubles champions.
“Our one, two and three singles, I don’t know what happened today, but we just didn’t have it again,” said Stockdale coach Dave Hillestad, whose team finished the regular season 17-7 and 8-2 in the SWYL). “But at least we pulled off a huge win, because that’s like No. 1 and No. 3 in the Valley, and we just took down the No. 1. So that’s an awful good win going into individuals.
“At least we got one more than we did last time, So it was a little bit closer, but they’ve just got a solid team. And sometimes you play against teams that are a little better than you. And they’re a little better than us.”