Janie Ellis didn’t have long to lament Clovis West High’s ouster from the Central Section girls tennis playoffs.
Not when she had an undefeated individual season to protect and a singles title to defend.
So the junior standout shook off the disappointment of the top-seeded Golden Eagles’ upset loss to No. 4 Buchanan in the semifinals of the Division I team playoffs and took it out on the field at the section’s individual tournament.
Ellis dropped only four games in four matches while winning the section’s singles championship for the second straight season.
It was super special for me. There was a lot of pressure going in, but I just let my hard work do the talking and played my best.
Clovis West’s Janie Ellis, the Central Section singles champion for the second straight season
She is also The Bee’s Player of the Year for the second time.
“It was super-special for me,” Ellis said. “There was a lot of pressure going in, but I just let my hard work do the talking and played my best. … It wasn’t easy. Every opponent made me work hard. I just had to stay laser-focused throughout my matches. I was fortunate to come out on top.”
The top-seeded Ellis capped a 29-0 season in singles play with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Buchanan’s No. 6 Lasya Gudipudi in the final of the 16-player championship tournament.
Ellis also beat No. 16 Katie Pfaff of Woodlake 6-0, 6-0, No. 8 Liberty Roche of Bakerfield Christian 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Delaney Roche of Bakersfield Christian 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals.
“You could tell by the Valley tournament that she was feeling good,” Clovis West coach Neil Castro said. “She had confidence, and when she’s confident, she’s tough to play. I don’t want to say she intimidates, but she gets girls on their heels, and when she sees that, she just keeps coming.”
Season record of Central Section girls singles champion Janie Ellis of Clovis West
Despite having her way individually against the top competition in the Central Section – her closest match was a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Clovis North’s Elizabeth Schulz in the final of the Tri-River Athletic Conference tournament – Ellis plans to continue playing high school tennis as a senior.
Ellis, who trains at Fresno’s 360 Tennis Academy under private coach Nick Castro, plays year-around on the United States Tennis Association youth circuit and is rated a three-star college recruit.
The last star tennis player to come through Clovis West, Billy Griffith, bypassed his senior season before landing a scholarship to Cal.
Griffith, however, already had led the Golden Eagles to three section D-I titles before walking away, a feat Ellis wants to accomplish as a senior while continuing to enjoy the camaraderie of working with teammates.
You could tell by the Valley tournament that she was feeling good. She had confidence, and when she’s confident, she’s tough to play.
Clovis West coach Neil Castro on Janie Ellis
“I’ve grown up all these years playing by myself, so being on a high school team is really special to me because of the team dynamic,” said Ellis, 52-3 over the past two seasons. “I love playing with and getting closer with all the girls.
“"It was really disappointing losing in the semifinals, but a couple things didn’t go our way, and that happens. We were really sad because we had a large group of seniors. But now we’re focused on next year and hoping to not make the same mistakes.”
The Fresno Bee Girls Tennis All-Stars
- Maria Aguilar, senior, Kerman
- Kelly Crouch, junior, Clovis
- Evin Haworth, sophomore, Central Valley Christian
- Lasya Gudipudi, junior, Buchanan
- Aliya Kusumo, senior, Clovis North
- Kerris Lassley, senior, Sanger
- Grace Moore, sophomore, Buchanan
- Tori Mueller, junior, Clovis
- Jordan Pickett, sophomore, Clovis North
- Elizabeth Schulz, senior, Clovis North
- Natty Villarreal, sophomore, Clovis East
Girls Tennis Doubles Team of the Year
JULIA AUGUST AND KATELYN PEYVANDI
School: Clovis West
They are qualified because: August and Peyvandi, the Golden Eagles’ Nos. 2-3 singles players, respectively, joined forces late in the season and went on to a runner-up finish in the Central Section individual doubles championships. After going 1-3 in sporadic pairings throughout the regular season, August and Peyvandi went 4-0 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference tournament. They won two matches in the North Area tournament to qualify for the individual championships, in which they earned the No. 2 seed and beat s No. 15 Stephanie Fronene and Mikayla Marini of Buchanan 6-3, 6-1, No. 10 Anna Ashford and Mia Sawaya of Stockdale 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Nandini Nair and Aliya Kusumo of Clovis North 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals. They lost 6-2, 7-5 to top-seeded Anastasia Drulias and Alexsia Drulias of Garces in the final. August and Peyvandi finished 10-4 as a team and helped Clovis West win the TRAC title, earn the section’s top seed and reach the semifinals of the Division I playoffs.
Girls Tennis Coach of the Year
School: Clovis North
He’s qualified because: Juinio led the Broncos to the school’s first Central Section Division I girls tennis title. Second-seeded Clovis North beat two-time defending champion and fourth-seeded Buchanan 5-4 in the final to cap a 23-3 season. The postseason run included a 7-0 victory over No. 7 Clovis in the quarterfinals and a 6-3 defeat of No. 3 Garces in the semifinals. Juinio was the section’s only coach to have two singles players (No. 4 Elizabeth Schulz and No. 14 Jordan Pickett) and two doubles teams (No. 6 Nandini Nair/Aliya Kusumo and No. 12 Minza Akbar/Manu Javangula) reach the individual championships. A former Fresno State standout who once held the school’s career wins record, Juinio was The Bee’s Boys Tennis Coach of the Year in 2012 while at Clovis West.