HANFORD — With a clean 9-0 sweep over Hanford on Thursday, Lemoore finished the first half of league play ahead of where they wanted to be this season.
“It was good to see everybody play and where we finished within the league for the first round,” Lemoore coach Carla Bow said.
Before the season began, Bow said the goal was to make the playoffs and finish third in the West Yosemite League. Currently, both those goals are within reach.
Sitting at 10-4-1 overall and 4-1 in the West Yosemite League, not only are the Tigers well above .500, but they’re second in the WYL behind first-place Redwood (14-2, 5-0 WYL).
“We’re ahead of where I thought we’d be at,” Bow said. “If we maintain, which I’m really hoping that we can, we finish above what we were and we’re in a better spot.”
Lemoore breezed through the six singles matches — all in straight sets — with No. 1 Madison Kuntz leading the way. She won her match 6-0, 6-2, despite battling an illness, and moved to 11-4 on the season at the No. 1 slot.
“I wasn’t prepared for it physically, but I was mentally,” Kuntz said. “I just thought, ‘I've got to get through this. If I get off the courts fast then I’ll feel better.’”
Two who really excelled on the court for Lemoore were No. 2 Aliana Cabuhat and No. 6 Hannah Raber. They each won their match 6-0, 6-0 and controlled the court.
“We started off a little slow,” Bow said. “But I like how they’re recovering from that quickly and then moving in and starting what they’ve been working on.”
No. 3 Jenny Paez won 6-2, 6-4, No. 5 Sophia Gregorio won 6-1, 6-1 and No. 4 Christina Nguyen won 6-, 6-0. Paez is 4-0 this season at the No. 3 spot.
The Bullpups (0-4, 0-3 WYL) continue to have another tough season. Still searching for their first win, Hanford coach Alex Ibarra said consistency is the biggest issue with the girls.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Ibarra said. “A lot of the girls are still having problem with technique. They do better sometimes and other times they don’t.”
The No. 1 doubles team of McKenna Miller and Emily Reinhart came closest to securing a win for the team. They led 5-2, but weren’t able to close the match as Lemoore came back to win 8-6.
“Sometimes they’ll be very confident at the beginning, but as the match goes they’ll tend to overthink shots and then a bunch of errors happen,” Ibarra said. “The game gets really close and then they just drop it like our No. 1 doubles.”
The Lemoore No. 2 doubles team of Paige Clarke and Raber won 8-1 and No. 3 Nguyen and Marissa Salazar won 8-0.
The Tigers have next week off before facing WYL opponent Redwood on Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. During their week off, Bow said the team will have challenge matches and work on building toward the playoffs.
“We’ve got some really strong teams in the division,” Bow said. “We’ve played one of them that we know we have to work a lot harder to be competitive and looking at the records of a couple of the others, it’s going to be tough.”
Hanford also has its next match on Sept. 24, but against El Diamante. Ibarra plans to have his girls play more individual matches at practice.
“Instead of doing drills, just have them play out games and watch them and then stopping them during the game and saying ‘Here is what you did and this is what you should’ve done,’” Ibarra said. “In a game you have seconds to react and if you’re not thinking the right shot at that precise second, it can cost you the game or the point.”