By Dave Loveton, SBCC Sports Information
Tense, Dramatic, Nerve-Wracking, Clutch, Epic.
The CCCAA Dual Match final in women's tennis was all that and more on an overcast Wednesday at Ventura College. Modesto took a 2-1 lead in doubles before Mt. San Antonio stormed back to win four of six singles, capped by a three-set win by their No. 1 player, Connie Aranguiz.
The Mounties (24-1), the top seed from the South, took the nearly four-hour match 5-4 to earn their first State title in women's tennis on the first day of the 115th Ojai Tournament. It was the 63rd state title for the school located in Walnut, Calif.
Modesto, the No. 3 seed from the North, suffered its first loss of the year and finished at 16-1.
Parker Pilati posted a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win at No. 3 singles to pull Modesto into a 4-4 tie. The only match remaining was the only one that went three sets, the No. 1 singles between Aranguiz and Vanessa Teves.
It was a hard-hitting slugfest and everything came down to the third set. Teves took the first set 6-4 and Aranguiz prevailed in the second, 6-1. With the third set tied at 3-3, Aranguiz broke her opponent's serve, then held serve to go up 5-3.
Teves broke back and fought off a match point to pull within 5-4. Aranguiz took a 40-15 lead on her serve but Teves battled back to deuce. After an advantage-in and advantage-out, Aranguiz hit a sharp-angle backhand that Teves couldn't return and it was match point No. 3.
A lob return by Teves went long and the Mounties sprinted toward Aranguiz to celebrate.
"I just kept remembering how much I love this team and why I play tennis," said Aranguiz, a freshman from Chino, CA. "That pushed me to the last drop of energy.
"It's amazing to win the State. I can't stop smiling, I love it."
Aranguiz has lost just once this year in a singles match against New Mexico Military Institute, a powerful two-year school. She's seeded No. 3 for the State Individual tourney, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday at The Ojai.
Aranguiz got her team's only doubles point, teaming with Kristen Canones to win the No. 2 set by an 8-3 count. Pyper Brown (No. 2), Judy Ung (No. 4) and Tran Bui (No. 5) got the Mounties' other singles wins in straight sets.
"I knew it was going to come down to one of the singles matches," said ninth-year Mt. SAC coach Sophie Salvador. "I knew it would be close. I don't even know how to explain it right now.
"Connie tends to think about the team score and puts pressure on herself. I told her 'Don't even think about that, just play one point at a time.
"It's so exciting to win the State title. I can't believe it actually happened. It's been a long season. It's a little surreal right now."
Teves and Chiara Adamo won the No. 1 doubles 8-5 for Modesto and Kristi Van Diver/Rebekah Jacobson took the No. 3 set 8-5. Jacobsen won 6-0, 6-3 at No. 6 singles and Pilati rallied from a 5-2 first-set deficit to beat Kristen Camones at No. 3 and set up the final showdown between the top two players.
"It was a big, big effort on our part," said 11th-year Pirate coach Milan Motroni. "We had a fantastic season with 16 straight wins. I'm extremely proud of the girls."
No. 1 Mt. SAC 5, No. 3 Modesto 4
1. Vanessa Teves/Chiara Adamo (Modesto) def. Pyper Brown/Judy Ung 8-5
2. Connie Aranguiz/Kristen Canones (Mt. SAC) def. Parker Pilati/Britney Leon 8-3
3. Kristi Van Diver/Rebekah Jacobson (Modesto) def. Tran Bui/Ysabella Matute 8-5
1. Connie Aranguiz (Mt. SAC) def. Vanessa Teves 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
2. Pyper Brown (Mt. SAC) def. Chiara Adamo 6-2, 6-3
3. Parker Pilati (Modesto) def. Kristen Canones 7-6 (5), 6-3
4. Judy Ung (Mt. SAC) def. Britney Leon 6-3, 6-1
5. Tran Bui (Mt. SAC) def. Kristi Van Diver 6-1, 6-3
6. Rebekah Jacobson (Modesto) def. Ysabella Matute 6-0, 6-3