FOLSOM — Passing a major postseason test, host Oak Ridge defeated St. Mary’s 5-4 Monday in Sac-Joaquin Section quarterfinal girls tennis action at the Broadstone Racquet Club.
With the victory, the Lady Trojans advanced to yesterday’s match against Rocklin, the program’s first-ever Division I semifinals appearance.
Standing in the way were the Rams, winners of three section titles. Though the Stockton-area squad brightened its team color several shades, put on a game face and came after Oak Ridge, the Trojans met the challenge in taking 4-of-6 singles and No. 1 doubles to eliminate St. Mary’s.
“The girls knew it’d be a hard match, knew they (Rams) were a good team and saw how the individual (sections) tournament went,” Oak Ridge coach Ralph Clark said. “The girls came to play and will have to again tomorrow.”
Clark didn’t put stock in the fact the individual section tourney, played late last week, saw Rams get the upper hand both directly and indirectly on Oak Ridge. He characterized Monday as one matchup firmly in Troy’s corner and the rest 50/50 — bore out by the tight final score.
“We’ve had several pretty easy wins lately but as expected the level of competition took a big jump today,” Clark said.
An intriguing match was No. 1 singles where two tournament doubles partners, Trojan freshman Madeline Almeida and Ram Abbie Mulbarger squared off and pelted one anothe with baseline strokes. Under the watchful eye of older sister Carolyn, a Trojan golfer, Madeline fell behind, overtook and then held off Mulbarger to win in straight sets.
“I was up 4-0 in the second set but she came back to tie and I was nervous,” Madeline said. “The pressure point was the fifth one but I pulled it off.”
St. Mary’s battled well early. Oak Ridge’s Kassidy Lyons (No. 6 singles) turned in the first team point with a thrifty 6-1, 6-1 win but the Rams prevailed in No. 3 doubles, defeating the Trojan duo of Ashlee Gonzales-Kelly McMillen.
The visitors went ahead as Oak Ridge’s Rachel Librach lost her grueling match at No. 2 singles to Elizabeth Stephens but Troy tied matters as Hannah Crookham (No. 4 singles) checked in with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Makenna Wilkinson.
The lead tilted back toward St. Mary’s as its high-fiving No. 2 doubles team took down Heather Dunham-Emily Abraham. It was even again when Oak Ridge partners Haesoo Kim-Jessica Williams (No. 3 doubles) won their two sets 6-2, 6-3.
Madeline’s win broke the tie and the deciding point came when Trojan senior Miranda Miller (No. 5 singles) posted her 6-2, 6-3 win.
“Today was some of the best tennis I’ve played in a long time,” said Miller who plans to play club tennis next year at college. “She (Alyssa Ellis) was consistent and I was too. I tried to keep the ball in and hit winners when I could.”
With victory secured, all eyes turned to the last match of afternoon, Teja Chalamcherla’s three-set marathon. The Trojan junior couldn’t follow-up her second set 6-1 win as MacKenzie “Mac-Daddy” Basso persevered.
Oak Ridge 5, St. Mary’s 4
Singles (OR first): Almeida def. Mulbarger 6-2, 6-4; Librach def. by Stephens 4-6, 0-6; Chalamcherla def. by Basso 5-7, 6-1, 3-6; Crookham def. Wilkinson 6-3, 6-1; Miller def. Ellis, Lyons def. Bernadicou 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles (OR first): Kim-Williams def. Doe-Avritt, 6-2, 6-3; Abraham-Dunham def. by Bernabe-Garibaldi 2-6, 3-6; Gonzales-McMillen def. by Coughlin-Cardona 2-6, 0-6.