Greyhounds host San Joaquin Memorial on Tuesday
Wednesday afternoon marked the opening round of the CIF Central Section girls tennis playoffs and a pair of North County teams, Atascadero and Templeton, were seeded high enough to host and both advanced with easy victories.
While the Greyhounds and the Eagles played in separate leagues this year, Atascadero in the Mountain League and Templeton in the Ocean, the two teams occupy the same division in the Central Section, Division 2, and are on the same side of the bracket meaning they could potentially face-off against each other in the semifinals.
The Eagles finished second in the Ocean with a 10-2 record, behind Mission Prep, only losing to the Royals, which earned them a No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
The Greyhounds finished in fourth place in the Mountain League with a 4-6 record but were behind Arroyo Grande and San Luis, who are both Division 1 teams, and St. Joseph (Division 2) which earned them the fourth seed and the right to host at least the first two rounds.
On Wednesday, the Eagles hosted Bakersfield-Ridgeview at the Templeton Tennis Ranch and cruised to a 7-2 victory. The Templeton tennis team is a veteran group complete with nine seniors on their roster in Alies Knoppers, Natalie Kissee, Sammie Vaicius, Jackie Krupa, Sage Gleason, Megan Murray, Diya Shinglot, Keli Janzen and Grace Ralston that have been incredibly supportive of one another this year.
“I have been really proud of how everyone is playing,” Kissee said after her singles victory on Wednesday. “We have all really stepped up from last year because we lost six seniors, but we have been able to fill in their spots and so it has been really cool.”
Kissee occupied the Eagles No. 1 position against Ridgeview and defeated their top player Haritika Verma in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
The Eagles took five of the opening six singles points, effectively winning the match before going to doubles, and each of the girls in green won in straight sets. Bella Backer, the lone junior in the singles lineup, won her match 6-2, 6-1, Vaicius won 6-3, 6-0, Gleason won 6-2, 6-4 and Krupa, who had the closest match of the day, won 7-6, 6-4.
“This year has been all about the team, not any individual player but how they play together as a team,” Templeton head coach Mary K Housinger said. “It was a great season this year, we have such strong leadership with nine seniors on the team and they came out with a plan.”
The Greyhounds hosted a much closer, yet not familiar, opponent on Wednesday when they welcomed the Nipomo Titans at Heilman Park for the opening round of the playoffs and rolled to an 8-1 victory. The Hounds won all six of the opening singles matches with the closest of them being a 6-3, 6-1 victory Kyla Stokes had as the Hounds No. 3.
Anneline Breytenbach, the county’s No. 2 overall player, continued her dominant run this season winning 6-0, 6-0 while being wonderfully polite, and No. 2 Haley Long joined her also winning 6-0, 6-0. Atascadero’s No. 4 Isabella Sanchez won 6-1, 6-0, No. 5 Camille Redberg won 6-0, 6-1 and No. 6 Micaela Sanchez rounded out the sweep with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Atascadero mixed it up in the doubles round using six fresh players and just missed another sweep when Brynn McKenzie and Kylie Sims dropped a back-and-forth tiebreak heartbreaker to Yezame Aguilas and Mariana Torres 7-7, 15-13 while Moselle Steiler and Cosette Barash sped to an 8-1 victory as did Elyssia Soto and Kayla Basden.
With a pair of victories, both teams advanced to the second round which will be held on Nov. 5. The Hounds will host San Joaquin Memorial while the Eagles will be on the road taking on top-seeded Sanger.