The Del Norte tennis team competed in an unfamiliar format in Fortuna on Tuesday, but with a familiar result as the Warriors stayed undefeated for the season with a 6-1 victory on the road over Fortuna.
“It was a true 4-3 format, which is what is played at the NCS Team Championships, and you end up playing 10 kids,” Del Norte head coach Samuel Escobar explained. “So what happens is the No. 1 through No. 4 singles players do not play doubles.”
Although Del Norte’s No. 4 player Diana Loban was unavailable for the meet, the Warriors played a fairly normal singles lineup with senior Bailee Drown winning the No. 1 match 6-1, 6-0; Jasmine Pearson winning the No. 2 singles match 6-1, 6-1; Castley Thao taking No. 3 doubles 6-1, 6-0; and Danika Scott filling in for Loban with a 6-1, 6-0 victory in the No. 4 singles match.
“We were happy with our singles matches. They were consistent, they executed well, they set up for their shots and they tried out different strategies, which is something we are trying to get them to do when they play less skilled competition.”
While the singles lineups looked typical for the Warriors, the doubles teams were completely new.
“One of the reasons that we played that way is because (Fortuna) has a lot of girls on the team, but the lower half of their team doesn’t have a lot of experience,” Escobar said. “The lower half of our lineup is inexperienced too, so we played it with the intention of giving some of our kids some experience and seeing what it would be like if we go south to the NCS Team Championships at the end of the year.”
Aliyah Rafalowski and Robyn Saatzer played the No. 1 doubles match, falling 8-5. The Warriors picked up wins in the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches however. Hayden Thornton and Emalee Hartwick pulled out an 8-5 victory in the No. 2 match while Cynda Thao and Vanessa Vongphachan took the No. 3 doubles match 8-5.
“The girls that got to play doubles appreciated being in a position to contribute to a team win, but it definitely puts extra pressure on them as well,” Escobar said. “We were pleased with some portions of their games, but at the same time the type of errors that they are making are errors that come from inexperience. Of course, that will improve with practice and with a year of experience under their belt. Everybody starts out that way. Our top players, like Bailee, Jasmine, Castly and Danika, were at the same place when they first started.”
With the win the Warriors improve to 7-0 overall this season. Del Norte is still the only undefeated team in the Humboldt-Del Norte League this season, but Del Norte is set to face one of its top competitors for the league championship on Thursday when Arcata comes to Crescent City. The meet between Del Norte and Arcata is scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m.