By John Sherrard, Correspondent
The Wilson High School girls tennis team was in unchartered territory in Monday’s CIF-Southern Section finals. For the first time in school history the Wildcats captured the CIF-SS Division 5 title at The Claremont Club by defeating Carpinteria, 14-4. Wilson never had advanced past the third round. It lost in last year’s quarterfinals to Aquinas. (To continue click thread)
Carpinteria (16-3) had upended three league champions, including top-seeded Aquinas, en route to the finals.
“It’s great, a rare accomplishment and very hard to do (win the title) and the girls totally came through,” second-year Wilson coach Irving Lai said. “All the hard work finally paid off for them.”
With Wilson leading in the match 9-2, the Wildcats needed one more set for the championship. Senior Meagan Zamilpa won her first set when Carpinteria’s No. 2 singles player Sidney Gross retired in the first game with a leg injury.
Zamilpa was trailing 0-5 in games in her second set, then reeled off seven games in a row to take the set and give the Wildcats their 10th and clinching set.
“I didn’t know where we were. I just knew that I was down 0-5,” Zamilpa said. “I looked at my mother and she raised both hands and I knew that meant 10 wins. I had the biggest smile on my face.”
Two of their top three singles players were not on the team last season. Zamilpa, at No. 2 singles, did not play and junior Caitlin Lee was injured in the quarterfinals.
All were healthy this season as the Wildcats swept through the Valle Vista League undefeated en route to an overall record of 21-1.
Wilson dropped only three sets in the first three rounds of this years’ playoffs. Monday it wasn’t any different as the Wildcats jumped out to a 5-1 lead after one round.
Top singles player Natalie Johnson easily won her first set of the day, 6-1, over Carpinteria’s No. 1, freshman Kelsie Bryant.
Johnson, who has not lost a set in team competition all season, also won her second set 6-0.
“It (winning the championship) is awesome, very, very exciting, especially this being my senior year and a lot of the girls also are graduating,” Johnson said.
Johnson, ranked 36th in Southern California USTA 18-year-olds, did not play in her third set since Wilson already clinched the title.
Johnson and Zamilpa are in the midst of their CIF-SS individual championships and advanced to the next round later this week.
Other winners for Wilson were the No. 1 doubles team of Megumi Kikuchi and Kaori Oishi (6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2) and No. 2 doubles Jacqueline Chu and Kathie Tang (6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4).
Both doubles teams were trailing in their sets before winning in the first round.
Substitutes Elizabeth Ovieda and Nikki Chavez also competed in the final sets.
“This year they (Wilson) were a lot more mature and seasoned and it came out today,” Lai said.