Top-seeded Clovis North High swept No. 2 Buchanan 6-0 to capture a second consecutive Central Section Division I girls team tennis championship Tuesday evening.
The final score was not indicative of how close the match was. Three individual matches went to third-set tiebreakers, including the deciding match between Tatiana Ruiz of Clovis North and Lasya Gudipudi of Buchanan at No. 1 singles.
Ruiz withstood long back-and-forth rallies to outlast Gudipudi, 6-4, 4-6, 12-10.
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“Sometimes in my matches I get a little tight, because I know a lot of people depend on me,” Ruiz said. “I just had to put all that out of my mind and just focus on the match. She’s a tough player, so mentally I just have to be there for me to win.”
Despite tightening up in the second set, Ruiz pulled out the victory to give the Broncos the clinching fifth team point.
“It messes with your mind a lot because you want the point to be done,” said Ruiz, who reached the section singles final Saturday. “I knew if I tried for something, it was going to be too much or too little. I knew I wasn’t in the right state to be going for shots like that, so I just said, ‘Keep it in, Tati, and you’ll be fine. Just keep it in.’”
It’s been quite a journey for Ruiz, who started off at Bullard as a freshman and was home-schooled as a sophomore and junior before winding up at Clovis North.
“I’m just glad I’m here on this team,” said Ruiz, who is being recruited by Azusa Pacific and Cal State Los Angeles. “I’ve known some of the girls for a long time. We went to the same academy and we all played together and I just love my team, even the new ones I met this year. I love them all so much. They give me so much support. A team with this much hype, I love it so much.”
Mercedes Garcia beat Grace Moore 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2 singles and Jordan Pickett took care of Stephanie Foanene 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 for the Broncos, who beat the Bears 5-4 in last year’s D-I final.
Ashley Cardot and Manu Javangula had to make comebacks to pull out victories in third-set tiebreakers. Cardot defeated Mikayla Marini 0-6, 7-5, 10-5 at No. 4 singles and Javangula beat Haley Nichols 6-7, 6-0, 10-3 at No. 5.
“The first set was crazy,” Javangula said. “I mean, I did not think I could pull off a win in the match, because whenever I’m down in the first set I get really discouraged and I kind of beat myself up about it. But then coming back in the second set and winning 6-0 was really great and the tiebreaker, too – I’m glad I won that and just closed the whole thing.”
Even though the Broncos (18-2) had already clinched their third section title (’11, ’15 and ’17), Nyari Muchaka rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second set to beat Kennedy Avery 7-5, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. The Bears (15-6) were making their sixth straight appearance in the section final.
“It’s great,” Javangula said. “I mean, you never think you’re going to win it again. I’m glad that we did.”
Central Section playoffs
No. 1 Clovis North 6, No. 2 Buchanan 0
No. 1 Redwood 5, No. 3 Bakersfield 4
No. 1 Corcoran 7, No. 3 West 2
(Corcoran back-to-back undefeated seasons – last year at D-IV)
Champions: No. 1 Central Valley Christian
No. 9 Kingsburg 6, No. 2 Fresno Christian 3