Toward the end of this past summer, Arroyo Grande High girls tennis coach Lori Hollister thought she had a special type of team heading into this season.
It looks more and more like she was right.
The Eagles, who were ranked No. 7 in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, defeated San Luis Obispo 10-8 on Thursday evening to clinch at least a share of the PAC 7 title.
The match, which took nearly four hours to finish and lasted well after dark, gave Arroyo Grande its first league championship since 2002.
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“We run a summer program, and at the end of the summer, I looked at my assistant coach and I said, ‘Wow, we’ve got some talent here,’ ” Hollister said. “These girls were working hard in the offseason, and from that point on, it was easy because they all showed fire and they all wanted a starting spot.
“They’ve worked hard, and they really deserve this.”
In late September, the Eagles (14-1, 10-0 PAC 7) had already bucked years of recent history when they won their first encounter of the year with San Luis Obispo, 11-7. That one was the Tigers’ first league defeat since 2004.
“I really feel this is a unique group of girls,” Hollister said. “I’ve told them that since the start. They never give up, and they just continue to amaze me.”
On Thursday, Arroyo Grande didn’t lose at all in doubles.
The sweeps came from the duos of Stephanie Domako and Amber Domako, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2; Courtney King and Maurisa Dominguez, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1; and Kimmy Turner and Brianna Flood, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.
“It’s a tribute to Arroyo Grande’s doubles teams,” San Luis Obispo coach Gary Etheredge said. “We had our couple chances to win sets, and they were able to carry through in the critical parts. They’re going to be hard to beat.”
Although the match had already been clinched on a potential games tiebreaker, Arroyo Grande made the final score less complicated when Lauren Hayashi picked up the Eagles’ lone singles win of the night, 6-4, in the last set of the day.
“Even the girls who lost in singles, to get those games today took a lot of energy,” Hollister said. “Had it come down to a 9-9 match, those games that they got would’ve helped us clinch the title.”
The Tigers (8-5, 7-2 PAC 7) got singles sweeps from Tori Troesch, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, and Abigail Will, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1. San Luis Obispo’s No. 3 singles player, Lili Voisinet, who has transitioned well from playing doubles a year ago, added a pair of singles wins, 6-1 and 6-2.
“The singles players were outstanding,” Etheredge said.
Arroyo Grande will close out its league schedule by visiting Paso Robles on Tuesday and then St. Joseph the following week. The Eagles won the first-round matchups against those two 15-3 and 14-4, respectively.
“We want to do this all by ourselves,” Hollister said of the remainder of the schedule and the possibility of a shared banner. “We want to be undefeated.”
The Eagles’ only nonleague loss of the season came to San Marcos, 13-5, earlier this week.
San Luis Obispo is coming off a year in which it advanced to the Division 3 championship match at the Claremont Tennis Club, coming up just short in a bid to capture the program’s first divisional crown since 1990.
“We’ve had a great run,” Etheredge said of losing the league championship streak. “I think we’re still a team to be reckoned with going into the playoffs.”