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AHS varsity girls tennis has incredible season

Isabella Sanchez plays in League prelims at SLOHS on Oct. 10. Photo by Mogan Orgeron.

The AHS varsity tennis team had an incredible season and even made it to the first round of CIF as a team. The Hounds tied for second in the Mountain League, winning seven matches and losing five. The players displayed great performances all season in league matches, and battled hard at league prelims, league finals, and in CIF. Coach Lori Bickel described the season as “a lot of fun, hard work, and improvement.”

The Hounds finished the season by opposing San Luis Obispo in a CIF Team game on Oct. 18 at SLO High School. Despite losing with an overall game score of 1-8, there were many close matches where the team showed tremendous effort. Doubles pair Cosette Barash and Elyssia Soto had an impressive score of 5-8, and junior Anneline Breytenbach and sophomore Brynn McKenzie lost by only two games, with a close score of 6-8.

With so many graduating seniors last year, the team of twelve had only three upperclassmen this season. “I was pleasantly surprised by the great amount of effort our young team gave this season” said Breytenbach, who is team co-captain and the team’s number one singles and doubles player.

Some Hounds had also advanced to league finals the previous week. The tournament took place on on Oct. 11 at SLOHS, with Breytenbach in singles and team captain Ariana Almaraz and Samantha Huffman as a doubles team. The team played well, especially Breytenbach who finished third.

Breytenbach also played at Regional Finals on Oct. 25 at SLOHS, which pitted the top six singles players and doubles teams from both the Mountain and Ocean Leagues against each other. Here, Breytenbach beat both the number six and number two players from the Ocean League 6-0 in both sets. “So far I’ve had a lot of fun playing individually. At Regional Finals I had quite the support crew that came and cheered me on during my matches, which made it even more fun. I’m really excited to see how far I can make it and represent our school,” Breytenbach said. At press time she was headed to the Individual CIF championships, which will take place on Nov. 1 and 2 in Visalia.

The team first began finishing up the season by playing in League Prelims on Oct. 10 at SLOHS. Doubles pair Barash and McKenzie had a score of 4-8 against Righetti, and partners Haley Long and Micaela Sanchez won against Orcutt Academy. Top finishers in the tournament were the players who had moved onto League Finals: Breytenbach, Almaraz, and Huffman.

The last league match of the season, played against St. Joseph on Oct. 4, was a 4-5 loss for the Hounds. The Hounds had won their previous game, played at home on Sept. 27, with a score of 5-4 against Orcutt Academy. On Oct. 2 the team lost to Arroyo Grande 0-9, and on Sep. 25 the team played hard and was defeated by SLO 1-8.

The team lost 2-7 at a home game against Sanger on Sept. 21. “We always give our best effort and we’re really good at never giving up,” Breytenbach said. The previous game, played Sept. 18 at Heilman Park against Righetti, was another 6-3 win for the Hounds. The preceding day (Sept. 22), at the Heilman Park courts, the Hounds battled hard but lost 3-6 to Clovis West. On Sept. 13 the team scored another victory (6-3) against Paso Robles. The next league match, played at home against St. Joseph on Sept. 11, was a 6-3 victory for the Hounds.

The Hounds’ season also included playing at the 2018 California Tennis Classic in Fresno from Sept. 6-8. The team had an amazing win against Centennial High School 3-3 (52-49). “The high point of the season was the times the team fought into the night, didn’t quit, and battled for the win,” said Bickel. The tournament also included a 3-3 (43-46) loss to Clovis and a 1-5 loss to Bishop O’Dowd. “The tournament was a very emotional experience where I overall created a much deeper bond with my teammates,” said sophomore Moselle Stieler.

On Sept. 5, at Arroyo Grande, the Hounds lost 0-9. Despite their losses, the team learned and grew together. “The best part of the season has been how much I’ve improved by playing against players that are better than me” said freshman Kyla Stokes. The previous match, which was played on Sept. 9 against Orcutt Academy, was a 3-6 loss.The team had a 0-9 loss against SLOHS on Aug. 30.

A home game, played on Aug. 28 against Templeton, was a win for the Hounds with a score of 6-3. “The high point of the season was the times the team fought into the night, didn’t quit, and battled for the win,” Bickel said. The team won 5-4 against Righetti on Sept. 23. The first official match, played at home on Aug. 21, was a victory against rival Paso Robles with a score of 5-4.

After hard work during summer conditioning, the Hounds started out the season by winning a home scrimmage match against Templeton 6-3 on Aug. 28. With lots of changes going on at AHS, the school hasn’t had tennis courts on campus since last year. The team played all home games and practiced at the Heilman Park courts across town. “Practicing together every day brought us closer as a team. We win together, and we lose together” said Mackenzie.

Overall, the Hounds had a very successful season with their high placing in league, advancement to CIFs, and the achievements of specific players who continued independently. Team members grew individually as players, and closer as teammates. “The girls had strong dedication to the team and team members. They all support each other really well,” Bickel said. The Hounds’ girls tennis team displayed hard work and growth this season, and were a model example of the commitment and loyalty required for successful teamwork.

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