School: Liberty-Madera Ranchos
He's qualified because: With an eight-player ladder featuring only two seniors, the Hawks won a second straight Central Section Division V championship. Chloe Doyle, in No. 5 singles, and Amanda Matthews and Nicole Roy, in No. 3 doubles, won just seconds apart as top-seeded Liberty closed a 17-0 season with a 6-3 win over No. 2 Strathmore. After running through the North Sequoia League with a 10-0 record, the Hawks beat McLane 8-1 in the quarterfinals and Central Valley Christian 9-0 in the semis. Liberty is riding a 20-match winning streak dating to 2010. "You're only as good as the players who play for you," Ruland said. "When you get them to trust you and get them to play as hard as they can play, it's the girls who deserve the credit. I've been blessed with a great group of girls who have played hard."
Getting it started: Ruland, a veteran coach of several sports who had won section titles in boys basketball (1987) and softball (1997) at Riverdale, launched the Liberty program nine years ago with a small group of novice players. The Hawks won their first section title in 2010 -- beating Strathmore 5-4 in the final -- and that sparked interest in the program, which grew to 21 players this past season. "There's an excitement brewing now," Ruland said. "When you have success, you get kids who come out of the woodwork."
Loaded for another run: Five juniors who earned singles wins in the section final -- Annie Erickson, Eunice Castro, Jordyn DeChamplain, Jocelyn Hernandez and Doyle -- are expected to return next season as the Hawks chase a third straight title.