“Every game counts.”

That’s what St. Joseph High School girls tennis coach Ray Cavazos reminded his players throughout Thursday’s PAC 8 match against cross-street rival Righetti.

And every game did count because, after all 18 sets were complete, the match was tied 9-9.

So they went to the first tie breaker – games won – and the St. Joseph Knights (4-8 PAC 8) picked up a much needed victory and neighborhood bragging rights, squeezing by the Righetti Warriors (3-9) 77-75 in games.

“It was a nail biter,” said Cavazos. “But that’s why I tell them they’ve got to try to win every game. If they’re down 4-0, 5-0, they’ve got to keep battling because even if they lose a set, the number of games they win is important.”

“It was an exciting match, good competition,” said Righetti coach Jen Haskell. “It was a fun day and this kind of competition will help us get better.”

When St. Joseph’s Julia Galloway defeated Righetti’s Haley Sousa 6-0 in the final round, it put St. Joseph up 9-7.

“When I get close to winning a set, I always get nervous and at times I would lose my patience,” said Galloway. “But I got control of my nerves. I told myself ‘just win one more game – I can do this.’”

“It was a big turnaround for us from the last time we played them (a 12-6 loss),” said Cavazos. “And a big shout out to Julia. That last time we played Righetti, Julia lost all her sets. Today she won all three. That was a key to today’s win.”

Galloway was the only player on either team to sweep her three sets, winning her other two 6-3, 6-2.

There were still two doubles sets in play after Galloway and Sousa walked off the court with the Knights up 9-7 and 69-62 in games.

When the Warriors Miranda Silva and Julia Wildegren topped the Knights’ Datuin sisters, Emilia and Eva, 6-3, it closed the games gap to 72-68.

So victory came down to the final doubles set between St. Joseph’s No. 3 duo Kate Adams and Soleil Orca and Righetti’s No. 1 team Lacey Snyder and Joselyn Rubio.

Adams and Orca were down 4-2 when they won the seventh game to pull to 4-3 which meant that, even if Snyder and Rubio won out, St. Joseph had won the match.

Adams and Orca eventually won the set 7-5.

“Lacey and Joselyn had to come back to win that last set,” said Haskell. “It was a good set but just wasn’t enough to help us win the match.”

St. Joseph’s No. 1 and 2 singles, Katelynn Haskell and Shianne Gooley each won one set.

The Datuin sisters and Adams and Orca each won two sets.

“It’s tough for me to watch Katelynn play against my team,” said Jen Haskell, who is also Katelynn’s mother. “I just try to stay away from her court. I walk to the other end of the courts.”

“This was my fourth time playing my mom’s team,” said Katelynn Haskell. A sophomore at St. Joseph, Katelynn will face her mother’s squad four more times before she graduates.

“Katelynn is a real grinder, she is so tough out there and Shianne is a hard hitter – serves hard, returns hard,” said Cavazos. “And Julia is like a backboard; she hits everything back and makes her opponent make a mistake.”

For Righetti, Lauren Zimmer and Bridget Lee each won two singles sets; Snyder and Rubio won twice in doubles, Kaitlin May and Alex Valentine and Silva partnered with Nerisa Arellano each won a set.

PAC 8 play for both teams continues on the road next Tuesday when St. Joseph visits Mission Prep and Righetti heads to Paso Robles.

Orcutt Academy 12, Nipomo 6

The Orcutt Academy Spartans closed out the home portion of their season with a Los Padres League victory over the Nipomo Titans.

Orcutt Academy held its senior day honoring Alexis Bettancourt, Hannah Kasai, Jana Andrade and Keona Pablo.

Pablo and Andrade swept their doubles sets 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.

Orcutt Academy’s Megan Vise swept her three singles sets 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.

The Spartans (14-3, 1-0 LPL) have enjoyed a rare seven-game homestand. They’ll close the regular season with three-straight on the road; next Tuesday at Santa Ynez, Thursday at Cabrillo and a week from Tuesday at Morro Bay.

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Senior Sports Reporter