Clovis North High’s Mizna Akbar and Manu Javangula wavered briefly, but never faltered while delivering match-point of the Central Section Division I girls tennis championship.
Akbar and Javangula pulled out a 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 3 doubles to lift the second-seeded Broncos to a 5-4 victory over two-time defending champion and fourth-seeded Buchanan on Tuesday for the title. Clovis North advances for the first time to the CIF Southern California Regionals, which start Nov. 15.
Buchanan’s No. 3 duo of Maddy Fraser and Amber Simonson battled to extend the match, pulling within 4-3 and 5-4 in the second set before Akbar and Javangula closed it out.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Akbar said. “We went to 5 a.m. practices just for this moment.”
Never miss a local story.
It’s the first D-I title for Clovis North, which won Division II titles in 2011 and 2010.
“I’m so excited,” Javangula said. “This is the best Clovis North has ever done. This is so surreal. I can’t believe it just happened.”
It was the third meeting of the season between the Broncos (23-3) and Bears (17-6). Clovis North won 5-4 on Sept. 21 and 5-4 on Oct. 11, overcoming a 4-2 deficit after singles during the second meeting.
And it came down to doubles again, with Clovis North’s Elizabeth Schulz and Jordan Pickett beating Grace Moore and Katie Jackson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 for the first point.
Akbar and Javangula won the clinching point in the second doubles match, setting off a celebration and rendering Buchanan’s 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 2 by Lasya Gudipudi and Stephanie Foanene over Aliya Kusumo and Nandini Nair irrelevant to the team score.
“I’m just in shock right now. I’m so excited. There’s no words to explain how I feel right now,” Schulz said. “We’ve been working hard all season. This is what our goal has been. We knew we had the potential from day one. And we’ve just been training so hard.”
Schulz helped Clovis North forge a 3-3 tie through singles with her 6-1, 6-3 win over Gudipudi at No. 1.
“We knew how everyone plays because we’ve played them so many times before,” Schulz said. “So we just had to go out there and focus and not worry about what was going on outside the match and just play how we can play.”
The Broncos also received wins from Kusumo over Jackson 6-3, 6-0 at No. 4 and Nair over Foanene 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5.
“I’m ecstatic. The girls stepped up,” said Clovis North coach Bryan Juinio, whose 15-girl roster sports the highest cumulative grade-point average for any girls tennis team in the section at 3.92. “You know, Buchanan they have been so good for so many years. We had a long talk yesterday, but today was real short. I told them something I remembered from the World Series. (Chicago Cubs manager) Joe Madden said if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best and we left it at that.
“Definitely home-court advantage was great. It’s always tough to beat a team three times in one year. You beat them twice and it’s a different game in the playoffs. It’s like you have to have a short memory and forget you beat them twice.”
Buchanan was aiming for its third D-I championship in the past four seasons, and its sixth overall since 1999.
The Bears earned singles wins from Moore over Pickett 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2, from Kelly Yang over Diana Biehl 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 and Mikayla Mirini over Alyssa Melillo 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6.
“You have to give some credit to Buchanan, they have been here before,” Juinio said. “I think their experience is why they are here today.”
Division II – Sisters Delaney and Liberty Roche beat Kate Kelly and Grace Hudson 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles to clinch top-seeded Bakersfield Christian’s 6-3 victory over No. 2 Bakersfield for the Eagles’ 12th straight section title.
Division III – No. 6 Immanuel took a 4-2 lead through singles and swept the doubles to upset top-seeded Lemoore 7-2 in the final.
Division IV – No. 3 Corcoran upended sixth-seeded and defending champion Wasco 6-3 for the title on Nov. 2.
Division V – No. 2 Central Valley Christian downed Firebaugh 5-4 in in the final for a reverse of the score from an Oct. 15 nonleague match-up between the two teams that helped the Eagles land the top seed.
CENTRAL SECTION CHAMPIONSHIPS
Clovis North 5, Buchanan 4
Singles: No. 1, Elizabeth Schulz, CN, d. Lasya Gudipudi 6-1, 6-3; No. 2, Grace Moore, B, d. Jordan Pickett 6-1, 6-2; No. 3, Kelly Yang, B, d. Diana Biehl 6-1, 6-0; No. 4, Aliya Kusumo, CN, d. Katie Jackson 6-3, 6-0; No. 5, Nandini Nair, CN,l d. Stephanie Foanene 6-3, 6-4; No. 6, Mikayla Marini, B, d. Alyssa Melillo 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles, No. 1, Schulz-Pickett, CN, d. Moore-Jackson 6-1, 6-1; No. 2, Gudipudi-Foanene, B, d. Kusumo-Nair 6-2, 6-3; No. 3, Mizna Akbar-Manu Javangula, CN, d. Maddy Fraser-Amber Simonson 6-1, 6-4.
Records: Buchanan 17-6; Clovis North 23-3.