SAN LUIS OBISPO — Technically speaking, both the Greyhounds and the Bearcats finished in the top three in their inaugural seasons in the Mountain League albeit in an unorthodox way. Atascadero finished league play with a record of 6-6 while the Bearcats finished at 4-8.
However, because Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo each tied at 11-1 and St. Joseph also finished 6-6 and Righetti also finished 4-8, there were three ties at each tier of the podium.
“I am really pleased with our girl's team this year. They worked hard and competed on the court all of the time,” Atascadero head coach Lori Bickle said. “They don’t give up which is one of our mottos is to never quit and they never quit, I’m really pleased.”
Paso Robles finished their season winning three of their last four matches, two of which were Mountain League contests against Righetti and St. Joseph.
“We played an extremely hard schedule, I mean, we played Buchanan and Clovis West and we didn’t have an easy match,” Paso Robles head tennis coach Laura Clowes said. “I think as far as league we had two, three or five losses that were just the difference of a couple points.”
This was the first season for both teams in the new format that the Central Section plays in where some of the noticeable changes are that each team plays six singles matches and three doubles matches while also playing three-set matches.
“We are still kind of adjusting to the six singles and the three dubs but it was fun,” Clowes said regarding the new format. “It was a really good year and I am super proud of my girls, I have a couple of kids that had never played varsity and moved up and played varsity so I am proud of them.”
Both coaches agreed that playing three sets is what is best for the players because it’s much closer to actual tennis matches.
“I like it,” Bickle said regarding the new format. “The matches were much longer so that they go into darkness, actually that could be an issue, as we’ve seen. As far as, well, I’ve asked all the girls if they think they are in better shape this season than last, and they would all agree, yes. They are playing a lot more tennis. With two out of three sets it kind of gives a little bit of an advantage toward skill rather than luck. At times a team can get on a roll and another team can be having a bad day and it can really take its own role but with two out of three you can’t get away with that as much. I like the new format.”
Both teams are very young this season and are optimistic about the future and how they have played this season. The Greyhounds have just one lone senior on the team this year in Ariana Almaraz, and the Bearcats only returned two players from the varsity team in 2017.
“Playing in this new league and with a relatively young team, we had a blast. I think the nerves kind of got us in the beginning of the season,” Clowes said.
Mountain League prelims began on Wednesday afternoon and went long into the night before eventually having to postpone the quarterfinal matches until Thursday due to the length of the matches. The Hounds and the Bearcats each had their top player ranked in the singles bracket with Atascadero’s Annaline Breytenbach playing in the No. 3 position while the Bearcats have Anya Medearis in the No. 6 position.
“You know it is early, but I am seeing a lot of competition on the court right now,” Bickle said Wednesday afternoon. “So I’m not sure we won't have a couple surprises of people who are going to advance. I expect Annaline to, she is the No. 3 seed but the way I am looking at people playing right now it is possible that we may have more than that.”