Clovis News: Sports

Buchanan nets D-I tennis title

It came down to the very end, just as so many had predicted.

A tiebreaker set to decide the Central Section Division I girls tennis championship match between Buchanan High and Clovis West.

And in the end, top-seeded Buchanan prevailed 5-4, capturing the title behind a risky coaching move that united freshman Megan Lee and junior Geena Garabedian as a doubles team late in the season.

Playing together for just the second time, Lee and Garabedian defeated Clovis West's Chelsea McCutcheon and Danielle Kar 7-5, 2-6, 10-8 in the final match of a five-hour affair that stretched from midafternoon into Thursday night on the Buchanan campus.

The two Tri-River Athletic Conference rivals split two matches -- both of those by 5-4 scores -- during the league season.

It was the Bears' first title since 2001.

"We knew it could come down to the final match and every point was going to be important," Buchanan coach Jonathan Slater said. "We had to think of some new doubles teams since we got swept by Clovis West last time.

"It was a gut feeling, where we were going to play kids. Megan and Geena, they've got good chemistry. They stepped up and played very well."

Garabedian did not participate in singles during the section finals, but was the replacement for Buchanan's top singles player Carissa Lee for doubles.

Garabedian responded by using a powerful and surprising cross-court volley attack that resulted in half of the Bears' points during the deciding 10-point set.

"I'm just really happy that I could help us win," Garabedian said. "But then it was really nerve-racking having it all decided on your match.

"You just try to do everything you can to win each point. ... I really like the net. It's fun to hit it at the other girls."

In all, the championship featured two singles matches that were decided on the 10-point tiebreaker set -- both won by second-seeded Clovis West -- and two doubles matches decided on the tiebreaker -- both claimed by Buchanan.

The only safe bet of the evening seemed to be Clovis West's top player Tayler Piearcy, who won at No. 1 singles over Carissa Lee 6-3, 6-1.

Then, Piearcy teamed with Kristin Lampe to beat Buchanan's Erin Carlson and Jessica Wang 6-3, 6-4 in No. 1 doubles.

The teams were tied 3-3 going into doubles play. Piearcy and Lampe quickly disposed of Carlson and Wang to put Clovis West on top.

The Buchanan duo of Kathryn Ashford and Lauren Young then found themselves in a see-saw affair with Clovis West's Tristan Keller and Chrysta Kazanchyan during the No. 3 doubles match.

Ashford and Young had to rally in the end to pull out a 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 win to tie the score.

That put all the attention on the No. 2 doubles match of Megan Lee and Garabedian against McCutcheon and Kar.

Both tandems handled themselves differently throughout the match, Lee and Garabedian the more emotional team and McCutcheon and Kar the more calm and collected.

On this day, emotion won. And when McCutcheon's attempted return sailed out of bounds to end the match, the Buchanan tennis players who were observing courtside immediately rushed the court to hug Lee and Garabedian.

"It's just a great feeling to see these girls so happy and excited, have their hard work pay off," Slater said. "Give credit to Clovis West. Man, they're a good team. It could easily have been their night.

"That was a roller coaster to watch. I'm glad it's over."

Other finals

-- Division II: Second-seeded Garces routed No. 1 Redwood 8-1. Top-ranked singles player Gabrielle Gatewood was the lone winner for the Rangers.

-- Division III: Porterville defended its No. 1 seeding, topping Tehachapi 7-2. Shiloah Gibson won in No. 1 singles and joined Alisia Scudder for a win in No. 1 doubles.