Clovis News: Sports

Clovis North wins girls D-II tennis crown

With a Central Section Division II team championship but a couple swings away Thursday at Clovis North High, Sydney Austin was in control, smiling, encouraging teammates on other courts and ripping forehands and backhands on her own.

"She pays attention to the rest of the team," Broncos coach Tye Fernandsen said, "but she brings focus back to her court and gets it done."

Fittingly, Austin closed her high school career by doing exactly that, rolling 6-2, 6-0 in No. 1 singles and later teaming with Caressa Archie in No. 2 doubles for a match-deciding 6-2, 6-0 decision as top-seeded Clovis North defeated No. 3 Tehachapi 6-3.

"It was such a great experience knowing in my senior year we could pull it out as a team," said Austin, who was part of the Broncos' first freshman class in 2007.

"Never did I dream at that time we'd be in this position," she said. "But when we went into the Valley seeded No. 1 I was thinking, 'We actually do have a shot at this.' "

The 5-foot-3 right-hander was the only senior in the Clovis North lineup a year after it was eliminated 5-4 by Tehachapi in the D-III semifinals.

And, in June, she's on track to walk with a 4.2 grade point average in the first graduating class for a school that has already won five section titles.

They've all been delivered by girls as the tennis team won a week after Clovis North did so in D-II golf.

Other Broncos section champions came in D-III -- soccer (2010), cross country (2009) and track and field (2009).

The tennis title, coming on an unseasonably warm mid-80s degree day, was all but secured after Clovis North emerged from singles with a 4-2 lead.

"No question, I felt pretty good at that point," Fernandsen said. "We spend a lot of time on doubles, and we had to win just one. I'm thinking, 'We'll get the job done at least somewhere.' "

Predictably, it was produced by Austin and junior Archie, who had partnered in doubles for two seasons.

"We got our communication down," said Austin, who overpowered the Warriors with her ground strokes while Archie ran down many balls and also played well at the net.

Fernandsen's lineup counted four sophomores and two freshmen, including Jackie Vasquez, who dominated 6-2, 6-1 in No. 3 singles.

The Broncos also received singles wins from Archie and sophomore Kayla Hosoda, and a doubles victory from sophomore Ashley Winslow and freshman Eva Julian.

Clovis North matched its youth against a Tehachapi team charged by four seniors among its top six. But the Broncos' learning curve accelerated during the regular season against strong competition in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

"No question that helped prepare us," said Fernandsen, whose team finished fourth in the TRAC behind D-I finalists Clovis West and Buchanan, and Clovis East. "Even though we took a couple thumpings, it was definitely good for the long term."