HANFORD — Hanford fought hard on Wednesday, but still couldn’t get over the hump in a 2-7 home loss to Mt. Whitney.
“I see that they’re getting more competitive as the season comes to an end,” Hanford coach Alex Ibarra said. “Even though it’s a little bit late in the season, but still they want that win.”
The West Yosemite League match had little implication on the standings with Hanford in the midst of a 2-9 season and 2-8 in WYL play, but don’t tell the girls tennis team.
With each missed shot or mistake, they were disappointed. With each call that didn’t go their way, they swung their racket in frustration. They wanted to win.
The final match score didn’t tell the whole tale. It could’ve easily been 4-5 or 5-4 had a couple points gone Hanford’s way or the carryover of a previous set hadn’t affected the following one.
“Just keep on getting on them as far as mentally tough and try to practice harder and with a more tactical game,” Ibarra said. “The X’s and O’s are going to be something they’re going to have to look at.”
Hanford No. 1 singles player Kaylee Bristol went down in her first match 2-6, 1-6, but the team came right back after No. 2 singles player McKennah Miller scored a decisive 6-1, 6-1 victory over her opponent.
No. 3 singles player Emily Reinhart had one of those tight matches where one shot here or there could have flipped the script in her favor. The junior’s excruciating 5-7, 6-7 (8-10) match was the closest loss on the day, but also a testament as to how close the girls are to winning.
She had trouble getting to her opponent’s lobs or getting jammed up, but carried herself well on the court. Reinhart moved side to side and was rarely caught flat footed when it came to chasing down a tough ball.
“Once I figured out that I should start hitting [the ball] to the sides and not straight to her, that’s when I started getting points,” Reinhart said.
Alexa Ibarra, the No. 5 singles player, was another one who had a tough loss. Initially, she played strong and her first set to a tiebreaker, but lost 6-7 (5-7).
“She hit cross court a lot and I just couldn’t get to them,” Alexa said.
Mentally, she couldn’t move on from the close call and faltered in her second set 1-6. Alexa said she was experiencing a hangover effect from the first set, knowing she should have had it. The snowball effect impacted her game and the quick loss was the result.
Out of six singles matches, Miller’s was the only one that resulted in a win. No. 4 singles player Sadie Avila lost 5-7, 2-6, again close in the first set, and No. 6 singles player Deesha Patel lost 1-6, 2-6.
Doubles was more of the same story with Hanford winning one of three, but losing another close match.
The No. 1 doubles team of Miller and Reinhart lost 5-8 in what was a tight match throughout. Each game was tough with many coming to within one point of each other.
“Just hitting it to the very back in the corner, that’s what got us points,” Reinhart said. “I think what it came down to was they had really strong hits.”
Those strong hits forced the duo to repeatedly stay on edge and continually stay ready behind the baseline to return.
“We’re a really, really good team and we can communicate so if there’s something that I’m messing up on or she’s messing up on, we can talk about it with each other and then we improve,” Reinhart said.
The No. 2 doubles team of Bristol and Alexa walked away with an 8-6 win and the second on the day.
“When [Bristol] was up at the net, I was back and when she couldn’t get balls, I got them for her,” Alexa said. “We just worked together.”
The No. 3 doubles team of Jenna Scott and Olya Prosianchina lost 2-8.
Ibarra wants to prioritize working on skill-shots and footwork for next season saying, “I’m going to have to focus on that a lot.”
“Next season I feel we’re going to be very competitive with the teams that are at our level,” Ibarra said. “These girls, they want to win. I can see it. It’s something that drives me to get them better.”
Hanford will see if they can continue to improve in their next match against Lemoore (13-4, 8-2 WYL) next Tuesday at 4 p.m.