Preps

Tuesday, Oct 15 2013 09:35 PM

Mira Monte captures share of SYL girls tennis title

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mira Monte High's Patty Ruiz hits a nice net shot to her Ridgview Opponent Katie Donda Tuesday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Johanna Coronado of Mira Monte High plays against Ridgeview HIgh's Racquel Kassas Tuesday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Racquel Kassas returns a volley to her Mira Monte opponent.

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  4. 4 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    MIra Monte HIgh's Johanna Coronado runs up to the ball for a nice shot during tennis action Tuesday while playing against Ridgeview High's Racquel Kassas.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Racquel Kassas hustles after the ball for a nice backhand return to Johanna Coronado from Mira Monte High Tuesday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Katie Donda plays against Mira Monte High's Patty Ruiz Tuesday in Bakersfield during the singles competition.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mira Monte HIgh's Patty Ruiz returns a nice forehand to her Ridgview opponent, Katie Donda, Tuesday, in Bakersfield.

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  8. 8 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Simran Sarai of Ridgeview, the number one player, goes against Mira Monte High's best player, Maria Mancilla, during Tuesday's match.

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  9. 9 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Katie Donda gets on her toes for a backhand return shot to her Mira Monte High opponent, Patty Ruiz during game action Tuesday.

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  10. 10 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Simran Sarai returns a volley to her opponent, Maria Mancilla of Mira Monte HIgh, Tuesday at Ridgeview.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mira Monte High's Maria Mancilla returns a shot to her singles opponent from Ridgeview, Simran Sarai, Tuesday at Ridgeview.

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  12. 12 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mira Monte's Maria Mancilla slaps a backhand to her Ridgeview opponent during a match Tuesday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    It's full concentration for Ridgeview tennis player Racquel Kassas during tennis action Tuesday at Ridgeview.

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  14. 14 of 15

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Ridgeview High's Simran Sarai keeps a close watch on the ball during Tuesday tennis action against Maria Mancilla of Mira Month High.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Maria Mancilla, Mira Month High tennis player keeps her eye on the ball during her match Tuesday against Simran Sarai of Ridgeview.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Drama steps aside for nothing, not even darkness.

And so it was that well past sunset Tuesday, Mira Monte's girls tennis team rallied to win the No. 2 doubles match to beat host Ridgeview 5-4 and share the South Yosemite League championship with Golden Valley.

"It means a lot," Lions coach Jeanette Baybo said. "We put a lot of effort into this. A lot of the girls have been with me for four years; some had just picked up the game when they came in.

"It's wonderful. We've struggled and pulled together and continued to improve."

Golden Valley (13-8, 6-2), which was idle Tuesday, had clinched its share of beating South on Thursday.

Ridgeview (11-8, 5-3 SYL) was the three-time defending league champion, and the Wolf Pack seemed poised to share a fourth straight when Simran Sarai and Racquel Kassas won their match at No. 1 doubles to give Ridgeview a 4-3 lead.

But Mira Monte (11-4, 6-2) won the No. 3 doubles match with Cassandra Walker and Leah Merete, taking a second-set tiebreaker, meaning the title would be decided by the No. 2 doubles match between Ridgeview's Katie Dowda and Isabel Villanueva and Mira Monte's Patty Ruiz and Johanna Coronado.

Complication No. 1: Because a singles match had gone long, that match had been shortened to a single pro set (first to eight games) to beat darkness.

Complication No. 2: The match still didn't finish until sun was barely producing any light. It was 8-8 and into a tiebreaker played almost solely from the far-off football stadium lights.

"When things like that happen, I just sit there and pray," said Baybo, who's in her second year as varsity coach after a stint as Mira Monte's junior varsity coach. "I just have to wait and hope the girls persevere."

Mira Monte trailed that match 5-2, but Ruiz and Coronado rallied, tying the match at 5, then at 6 and then taking an 8-7 lead before Ridgeview forced the final tiebreaker.

"We never quit," Ruiz said. "We just let our racket do the talking."

It's Mira Monte's first tennis title since it entered the SYL in 2010. Ridgeview, which lost nine seniors from last year's team, which finished as Central Section Division III runners-up.

"For us to be where we're at is more than we could have expected," Rice said. "We were so close. Our opponents played better at the big points, but we never quit. I can't be disappointed in the girls."

Five of the singles matches were decided in straight sets, but Mira Monte earned its first turning point when No. 6 player Alely Caldera fought off two match points to beat Isabel Villanueva 1-6, 7-6, 12-10 to even the match 3-3 heading to doubles.

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