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SELMA - Despite being without two players, the Selma Bears (13-11, 8-4 CSL) started its postseason run with a 6-3 victory over Yosemite in the first round of the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

“All I asked from the girls was to step up and play the way that I know the way they could play,” Bears coach David Cortina said. “They all did step up, it was a slow warm up, technically, until they got relaxed, but they came through in the end.”

Top player Emily Sanchez was held out with an injury while No. 6 Sega Moreno was unavailable due to other obligations.

With Sanchez out, Cortina had to move his 2-5 players up a spot while Moreno’s absence provided an opportunity for Anna Armstrong and Elisabet Gonzalez, both of whom have been primarily used as doubles players. Armstrong was the No. 5 player while Gonzalez was slotted in at No. 6.

Moving up in the top three spots were Alina Lopez (No. 1), Dashrit Pandher (No. 2), and Chloe Mendoza (No. 3). All three were all victorious in their singles matches. Lopez had a 6-3, 6-0 victory, while Pandher came on top in a 5-7, 6-4, (10-2) tiebreaker, and Mendoza claimed a 6-3, 6-0 win.

“It’s daunting to go into playoffs for your first game, nonetheless, with two players missing, so I’m just proud of just how the girls pulled away,” Pandher said.

Pandher and Mendoza said they’re expected to move in those spots next season and this match gave them an outlook of when they do slide into those roles.

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“For us, it was a taste of what next year’s going to be like,” Pandher said. “We also knew that we had to keep the team together and motivate everybody.”

In the No. 4-6 matches, Anahi Soto (No. 4) and Armstrong lost, but Gonzalez was victorious in her match that ended in a tiebreaker. The final result of Gonzalez’s match was 4-6, 6-1, (10-8). Soto was moved up from her usual spot of No. 5.

With a 4-2 lead, Selma officially clinched the victory in doubles with a 8-7, (7-3) win in the No. 2 match. Lopez and Soto were the players that led the Bears to victory. Pandher and Mendoza teamed up in the No. 1 doubles and claimed a 8-4 win. Both coaches agreed to play doubles in an 8 game pro set.

“I had pretty good confidence in my top players moving up,” Cortina said. “Even the lower players, they didn’t go down that easy. They put up a fight and my top players rose to the occasion.”

Selma last played top-seeded Central Valley Christian in the quarterfinals on Tuesday (after press time). The Bears lost in both Central Sequoia League matchups to the Cavaliers this season.

“We just need to give it our all,” Mendoza said.

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The reporter can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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