Union Mine coed tennis takes playoff opener

By May 2, 2011

UNION MINE'S Taylor McClain was solid in his straight-set victory Monday to help the D'backs win their playoff opener. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

UNION MINE'S Taylor McClain was solid in his straight-set victory Monday to help the D'backs win their playoff opener. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

EL DORADO — Host Union Mine not only won its first-ever postseason coed tennis match Monday, the Diamondbacks dominated in a 7-0 victory over visiting Sacramento Country Day. The win advanced the D’backs to Tuesday’s second round at Placer.

The CIF Sac-Joaquin Division III coed playoff format shaved No. 2 boys/girls singles from the lineup, forcing both teams to juggle personnel. Union Mine, with the exception of girls singles and No. 1 boys doubles that both went three sets, won with relative ease in a matchup of No. 3 seeds.

“We had a scouting report and understood we were probably the stronger team,” D’back coach Chris Schnaidt said. “We just had to worry about the Monday blahs and a letdown from last week’s tournament affecting us and take care of business — and that’s what we did

“Placer will be a challenge and we’ll be fighting their tradition of excellence. We’ll have to be ready to play, play our best and regardless of the result, be happy with that effort.”

Union Mine’s top girls doubles duo, Ellie Klumb and Ali Learner, probably had their easiest match of the season and quickly walked off 6-0, 6-0 winners to put the D’backs on the board.

“The competition was a little lighter than usual and it was a good way to end the season at home,” the seniors said. “Our play was solid and consistent and our ground strokes, serves and fundamentals were all working.”

Union Mine’s ace up the sleeve was Taylor McClain, who has had a perfect season and remained unbeaten on the year with his 6-0, 6-1 victory over Country Day’s Damien Blake. McClain puffed up his resume by winning last week’s Sierra Valley Conference Super Singles title at Laguna Creek Racquet Club and Monday, McClain had Blake running from the get-go.

“My last match (Super Singles final) was my best of the season but I struggled to play at that level today,” McClain said. “My strategy was to get everything back (over the net) and let him make mistakes because I wasn’t making my shots today.”

In the other girls singles match, D’back Dylan Jocoy rebounded from a first-set loss and outlasted her opponent 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Union Mine’s No. 1 boys doubles team, Jake Schecter and Tim Murphy, won in three sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

It was clear fairly early, as points racked up on the D’back score tabs, that the team was headed over Highway 49 to Auburn to see the Hillmen. The girls No. 2 doubles team of Darby Bowers and Jessica Larson won 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 doubles pair Ben Gwerder and William Gardner prevailed 6-2, 6-1; and in mixed doubles, Machaela Melrose and Kevin Reyes teamed for a 6-0, 6-2 win to close the afternoon.

Monday was the D’backs’ first appearance in the playoffs since the girls’ team made it in 2001.

At the league championships, McClain defeated Vista del Lago players back-to-back to win the title and advance to Thursday’s individual section tournament at the Oak Park Tennis Courts in Stockton. He’ll be joined by Melrose and Schecter, who finished second in mixed doubles after besting El Dorado’s Savannah Barnhill-Colton Kinsbury 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Jerry Heinzer

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