Story and Photo by Becky Gagnon
Yesterday, on a beautiful, sunshine-filled day, every King Tennis team player was ready to play their best match of the season! Even if it was against their OWN teammates.
Big VIII League Individual Semifinal King doubles teams of Seeta Patel with partner Rida Syed faced off against Hannah Turner and Jenny Noh. The girls went out to compete against their “opponents” and the results proved the intensity of the match. Turner and Noh were victorious in the first set, prevailing with a score of 6-2. Patel and Syed turned it up a notch, and pulled out the second set victory with a score of 6-2 . With split sets, the two teams moved into a third set, with Syed and Patel bringing home a 6-3 win. On the other side of the draw, Naneeta Desar and Jaslyn Gines defeated the Santiago doubles team with a score 6-2, 6-2. This set up an All King Finals scenario, with the 3rd King doubles team playing off for the 3rd place doubles spot against Santiago. Turner and Noh defeated Santiago to earn 3rd place honors, while senior, Naneeta Desar and sophomore, Jaslyn Gines defeated teammates, Seeta Patel and Ryda Syed to earn the 2018 Big VIII Individual Championship crown.
With King doubles winning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place honors, the top two teams move forward to represent KING in the CIF Individual playoffs.
On the singles side of things, Katie Lucius came out determined to defeat her opponent from Santiago whom she had previously lost to both times during league play. Katie not only refused to lose but effectively controlled the match to win 6-3, 6-1. Freshman, Geetika Sreeram handled her semifinal opponent with ease, defeating Centennial 6-1, 6-3 . Semifinal victories set up another ALL King Final between Sreeram and Lucius that did not disappoint! The match was a tough one with Lucius picking up the 1st set, 6-3 and Sreeram fighting back to win the 2nd. with a score of 6-4. With split sets, the girls entered into a 3rd set and battled to the end with Sreeram coming out on top, 6-1, as the 2018 Big VIII Individual Singles Champion! Both King players move forward together to Individual CIF playoffs.
As a coach, I can’t recall a time that I have been any prouder of a team. Playoffs are always a source of increased competitive intensity, and it is never easy to play your own teammates. With a mental toughness that has been evident throughout the season, this team was determined to compete with the highest level of play against their “opponents” regardless of who they were, remembering, it is never personal. As Coach Russ Gagnon has reiterated and emphasized all season, “we turn on the engine to start the match and we don’t turn it off until we get the job done.” King Tennis is a machine.
At the end of the day, this “Machine” came back together as “family” congratulating each other for a job well done! I’m so proud to be a member of this “family”– King Tennis — 2018 Big VIII League Champions!