If the Arroyo Grande High girls tennis team’s match Tuesday afternoon against San Luis Obispo is a harbinger of the rest of the PAC 7 season, the Eagles are well on their way to another league championship.
Arroyo Grande (7-0, 4-0), the fifth-ranked team in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 coaches poll, stayed unbeaten with a 14-4 win over the visiting Tigers.
“Arroyo Grande is for real,” Tigers coach Gary Etheredge said. “They’re an excellent team.”
Two of the most impressive performances by Eagles players came in singles from freshman Sophie Whittle and sophomore Lauren Hayashi, each of whom swept on the day.
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Whittle (20-1, 9-0) started with a notable 6-2 win over the Tigers’ No. 1, senior Tori Troesch.
“I kind of thought that we could do a 12-6 (score) or maybe even 14-4, but the way that we did it was just exceptional,” Eagles coach Lori Hollister said. “I thought to have our two youngest players out here winning against Tori was just a phenomenal tribute to their maturity on the court.”
Troesch, last year’s PAC 7 singles champion, is rated as a top-45 player in the state by TennisRecruiting.net and has a scholarship offer from Portland.
“It was good playing against Tori because I haven’t beaten her yet,” Whittle said. “So it was good to finally beat her, but she’s a good player and she’s really nice.”
Hayashi (25-0, 12-0) also edged Troesch, 6-3, and went on to win her other two sets 6-0, 6-0.
“Our girls had nothing to lose (against Troesch),” Hollister said. “It’s always easier to have to play up than it is to try to hold your ground.”
Troesch rebounded with a 6-2 win over Alex Mero to close out the day.
Mero won her two other sets, 6-0, 6-1. Doubles were more contentious across the board.
San Luis Obispo got a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 sweep from Abigail Will and Joelle Lewis.
Will, also a senior, won the league’s singles titles during her freshman and sophomore seasons.
San Luis Obispo (4-1, 2-1) has a somewhat more inexperienced roster this year, with five of its nine regulars being first-time varsity players. Last year the Tigers were the league’s runner-up, finishing 10-2 in PAC 7 play while the Eagles went 12-0 to win their first league crown since 2002. Still, though, the Tigers outlasted them in the divisional playoffs, making it to the quarterfinals.
“It’s nice to get through this first round against San Luis Obispo,” Hollister said, “because it’s a gauge about how well we’re going to do. And it was a good challenge for us to play against (Will) in doubles today, because that’s the kind of tennis we’re going to see in (the postseason).”
Arroyo Grande took the rest of the doubles sets, though, as the duos of Maurisa Dominguez and Alexis Flood, Stephani Domako and Amber Domako, and Brianna Flood and Joanne Phung all won two of three each.
“We’re all really happy with the results,” Whittle said.
In the last matchup of the day, Flood and Phung held on against Darla Berkefeld and Lauren Hutkin, 7-6 (7-2).
“There were a lot of sets in doubles where we were up and weren’t able to close it out,” Etheredge said. “So that’s a big difference, and of course, like I said, they’ve got a tough lineup from top-to-bottom.”
The Eagles are looking to make a deeper run into the playoffs this season after being upset 10-8 in the first round a year ago by Lakewood.
“I don’t feel that there’s a weak link,” Hollister said. “The confidence they can get from playing a match like they did (Tuesday) will really help them.”