LEMOORE — It was a 90-degree Wednesday, but Lemoore didn’t break a sweat besting Hanford 8-1 in a West Yosemite League girls tennis match.
Coming off a Division 7, second-place finish in the California Tennis Classic, the Tigers were primed and ready to continue not only their excellent weekend, but excellent season so far.
Even with their No. 1 singles player out due to illness, the Tigers didn’t skip a beat on the court. The rest of the team stepped up and continued what has been an excellent season so far.
“[The team] is very focused right now as we’re going into the second round,” Lemoore head coach Carla Bow said. “I give them a vision for each match, what needs to be done.”
Things started out well for Hanford (1-4, 1-4 WYL), who’s struggled mightily this season, with an early singles win by No. 3 singles player Emily Rinehart (6-3, 6-2).
“When I hit lobs further back, I was able to get the points faster,” Rinehart said.
But it quickly went downhill from there as Lemoore (10-1, 5-1 WYL) demonstrated why they finished second in the West Yosemite League last season.
Lemoore’s No. 1 singles player Lizeth Garcia leading 2-1 in the first set against Hanford’s No. 1 singles player Kaylee Bristol, before an injury forced Bristol to forfeit. Garcia won the sets by default.
The singles play of No. 2 player Jolene Simas allowed her to stay focused as she took her first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-2) and got into a real groove in her second set winning easily 6-2.
“My deep shots and then a few times I had a few short ones that worked out,” Simas said about her first set.
Simas — one of only two seniors on the team — added that she made sure she was in the right mindset and focused, which allowed her to cruise in the second set.
No. 4 player Jenny Paez (6-2, 6-1), No. 5 player Paige Clarke (6-4, 6-3) and No. 6 player Aliana Cabuhat (6-0, 6-1) all earned victories for the Tigers, without any going to a tiebreaking third set.
“It’s been great to overall know that we’re doing well as a team and that we’re all working together,” Simas said. “We all support each other … we all help each other out and boost each other up and that’s just a great team overall.”
The doubles teams were more of the same story for Lemoore as they swept all three matches with the No. 1 doubles team winning 8-5, No. 2 doubles team 8-4 and No. 3 doubles team 8-1.
“I mixed up the doubles a lot this year, which I usually haven’t in the past,” Bow said. “Mixed it up to try out different ones and given them the strategy of why we’ve mixed it up and they embrace it.”
Despite losing seven seniors — and having only one returner — from last year, Wednesday’s win keeps Lemoore on track to equal, or better, their great record from last year when they went 19-5 overall and 10-2 in the WYL.
“I have some hard working girls,” Bow said. “They have that athletic background, that team background that they’ve taken charge of what needs to be done.”
For the Bullpups, their season hasn’t shaped up quite like they hoped it would. The young team, composed mostly of freshmen playing tennis for the first time, still has a large learning curve to overcome.
“The girls still don’t understand a lot of the technique and strategies,” Hanford head coach Alex Ibarra said. “The fundamentals of the game are key to getting them up to speed.”
Hanford’s lone victory came against Hanford West on September 5 when they won 6-3.
“Most of the girls are freshman so this is their first year,” Rinehart said. “They just need to be practicing more. Basically, just working with the freshman, kind of helping each other throughout the game.”
Both teams will have a couple days off before getting back into action. Both teams play on Monday at 4 p.m. with Lemoore hosting winless Hanford West (0-6, 0-6 WYL) and Hanford facing the defending WYL champions Redwood (10-3, 5-0 WYL).