It doesn’t get any closer than this...
After all 18 sets were complete, the match was tied 9-all between the Santa Ynez Pirates and Cabrillo Conquistadores in a Channel League girls tennis match Tuesday afternoon in Vandenberg Village.
It was time to get out the scorecards and add up the games.
When the math was done, Cabrillo had won one more game than Santa Ynez, 76-75, to break the tie and win the first-ever Channel League meeting between the two longtime Los Padres League foes.
“You can’t let down, not even for one point,” said Santa Ynez coach Jennifer Rasmussen. “We had 18 sets of great tennis today and there was just a one-game difference.”
“I want to congratulate Santa Ynez,” said Cabrillo coach Chris Suchecki. “They played us really tough — I mean it came down to one game.”
Cabrillo (2-1 Channel League) jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the first round.
“I know we have the lead but every game counts, every game counts,” said Cabrillo Athletic Director and junior varsity girls tennis coach Dan Troup as he gathered the squad before second-round action began. “Even if you’re losing a set, keep fighting. We need to win every game we can.”
Those words came true when Santa Ynez (0-3 Channel League) fought back to tie the score at 6-all after two rounds were in the books and the teams were 50-50 in games won.
After 16 of the 18 sets were played, the teams were still tied, 8-8 in sets and 65-all in games.
The match came down to the final two doubles matches between the Conqs’ No. 1 tandem of Paris Wynne and Alyssa Murray against the Pirates’ No. 2 Lexi Hemming and Clara Newton and Cabrillo’s No. 2 team of Shelby Whitschick and Katie Hunt versus Santa Ynez’s No. 3 Isabella Curti and Alexa Yacoub.
They didn’t know it at the time but when Murray and Wynne won their set by three games, 6-3, it gave Cabrillo the one-game margin of victory.
Minutes later, the Pirates’ Curti and Yacoub won their set, 7-5, in a down-the-the wire battle that could have gone either way but Curti and Yacoub only won by two games, which meant the Murray-Wynne three-game win put the match into Cabrillo’s win column.
The match kicked off with a battle between two of the best singles players on the coast — Santa Ynez No. 1 Claire Collison in a showdown with Cabrillo No. 1 Kayla Kling.
Both players were a perfect 6-0 on the Channel League season with no one having won more than two games against Kling.
The set featured long rallies as the two matched each other shot for shot with Kling getting the better of it as the set wore on.
Kling quickly went up 5-1 before Collison battled back to close the gap to 5-3.
But Kling’s booming serve kept Collison off balance on the way to a 6-3 win.
“That set went by kind of fast and I don’t think Claire was able to regroup,” said Rasmussen. “But their No. 1 is very consistent, she has a strong serve, she moves around the court very well and moves the ball from side-to-side which makes it hard on her opponents.”
“That first set against Claire was the best anyone has done against Kayla this year,” said Suchecki. “She’s just such a smart, strong player.”
Both players went on to win their final sets — Kling by scores of 6-1 and 6-0 and Collison coming back for two 6-1 wins.
Sophia Curti, the Pirates No. 2 singles player, picked up a 6-2 win over Cabrillo’s No. 3 Rachel Carlos.
Meanwhile, Cabrillo’s Karley Kovach won two of her three set, 6-4 and 6-0 while Carlos added a win over Alana Hinkens as Cabrillo went 6-3 in singles.
Santa Ynez turned the tables in doubles, winning six of the nine sets.
Cabrillo’s Murray and Wynne also swept their three sets for the Conqs’ only doubles points.
"Alyssa and Paris sweeping those sets was huge,” said Suchecki. “Rachel (Carlos) won only one of her sets but in a match like this, that might have been the one we needed the most.”
The Santa Ynez tandems won the rest of the doubles with No. 1 Lauren Thorburn and Tristan Bunderson (7-5, 6-0), No. 2 Hemming and Newton (6-4, 6-4), and No. 3 Isabella Curti and Yacoub (7-5, 6-0) keeping Santa Ynez in the match until the very end.
“Every game counts and I always tell the girls that. Today was a perfect example of that,” said Rasmussen. “This was a great learning experience today for the girls. They have to learn to play with the same intensity all the way through the match. I’m proud of the girls. We were able to battle back against a very good team. I think this gives us something positive to work for in practice.”
“I’m proud of the girls,” said Suchecki. “They fought hard all day, never gave up and they all won games that we needed.”
Cabrillo stays home for its next match Thursday against Santa Barbara,
Santa Ynez continues its road trip Thursday at San Marcos.
Arroyo Grande 240, Santa Ynez 258
The Arroyo Grande Eagles topped the Santa Ynez Pirates in a non-league girls golf match at Cypress Ridge in Arroyo Grande.
The Eagles’ Karley Pinkerton was three strokes better than the Pirates’ Gracie Church to earn medalist honors, shooting a 42 in the nine-hole match to Church’s 45.
Scoring teammates behind Church were Morgan Blunt (46), Erinn Callaghan (52), Marina Vengel (53) and Sylvia Kostrzewa (62).
Rounding out the Eagles’ scores were Claire Marshall (48), Sora Park (49), Ava Mankins (51) and Sidney Pruett (52).
Santa Ynez returns to Channel League play Thursday against Dos Pueblos at the Glen Annie Golf Club.
Arroyo Grande will be playing in the Mountain League weekly tournament against Righetti, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Atascadero Thursday at Atascadero’s Chalk Mountain Golf Club.