The top two Los Padres League girls tennis teams faced off Tuesday afternoon on the Hancock College courts.
The match lived up to all the expectations.
In the end, Orcutt Academy (6-0 LPL), the defending Los Padres League champion, defeated Cabrillo (5-1) 10-8 to grab the outright league lead.
The match featured long rallies, a number of deuce games and two tiebreakers in the longest match of the year — 3 hours, 15 minutes from start to finish.
It was fitting that it would all come down to the final round.
“We were tied 6-6 going into the third round. I thought we could win four sets and pull out the victory,” said Orcutt Academy head coach Art Lopez. “The match went exactly the way I thought it would. I knew it would come down to the final round.”
“It was a tough loss. I knew it was going to be close,” said Cabrillo head coach David Riley. “I knew that last round was going to be a battle and they got the best of us.”
When Orcutt Academy’s Megan Vise, playing in the No. 2 singles spot, defeated Cabrillo’s Clancy Turner 6-0, it put the Spartans up 9-6 and, if it came down to a 9-9 tie, an insurmountable lead in games.
“That put us up 72-46 in games," said Orcutt Academy assistant coach Jimmy Zepeda. “So we knew they couldn’t catch us.”
And when the Spartans’ No. 2 double teams, Emma Valencia and Paige Wells, beat Cabrillo’s No. 3 doubles team Madison Sikes and Emily Moran 6-1 in the day’s final set, it gave Orcutt Academy a 10-8 victory, making the game count unnecessary.
The match opened with Cabrillo’s No. 1 singles player and current Northern Santa Barbara County Athlete of the Week Sierra Hohimer facing the Academy’s Kayla Pablo, who was in the Spartans’ No. 1 spot.
Their set took nearly 90 minutes before Hohimer won 7-6 (7-2) in a tiebreaker — Pablo's first loss of the year to an LPL opponent.
“All the other first-round matches were already over and everyone was interested in watching Sierra and Kayla so they all came over to watch the end of that set,” said Lopez.
It wasn’t easy.
Under a bright sun with little wind and temperatures in the high 80s, Pablo took an early 4-3 lead before Hohimer won the next two games to go up 5-4.
Each broke serve and Hohimer had the chance to win the set at 6-5 but Pablo broke Hohimer’s serve in the next game to force the tiebreaker.
That’s when Hohimer found her shot, putting away Pablo 7-2 in the tiebreaker.
But the set had a half dozen deuce games, extending the girls’ time on court.
“Any time you’re on the court that long, it’s going to take something out of you,” said Riley. “But Sierra came back out and battled the rest of the day.”
“Kayla is just a wall. You can’t get the ball past her,” said Lopez. “That first set could have gone either way.”
Hohimer won two of her three sets but her second round 2-6 loss to the Spartans’ Megan Vise seriously hurt the Conqs’ chances.
Vise, who switches between No. 1 and No. 2 singles with Pablo, swept her three sets 6-0, 6-2, 6-0 and Pablo came back to win her final two sets 6-0 and 6-1 to give Orcutt Academy a 5-4 edge in singles.
“Megan and Kayla are sort of interchangeable,” said Lopez. “Megan wanted to get one set under her belt before facing Sierra so we put her in a No. 2 today.”
“Sierra is a great tennis player and she won two of her three sets for us today,” said Riley. “But their top two singles players, Vise and (Kayla) Pablo are very solid. I knew they would give us a battle.”
Katie Hunt and Clancy Turner each won a singles set for Cabrillo.
The Spartans also went 5-4 in doubles, led by No. 1 Jana Andrade and Keona Pablo, who won 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 and their No. 2 doubles Emma Valencia and Paige Wells who won two of three, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
“Jana and Keona are just on a roll," Lopez said. "Emma and Paige lost their set against their No. 1 but they won their other two, they still played well."
Cabrillo’s No. 1 doubles team of Karly Kovac and Alyssa Murray won two of three. Cabrillo’s No. 2 team of Karley Atkin and Paige Wynne and No. 3 Madison Sikes and Abby Bleak each won one set with Sikes and Bleak outlasting the Spartans’ Alexis Betancourt and Hannah Kasai 7-6 (7-5) in another first-round thriller.
“Karley and Paige lost their first set 4-6 and Sierra lost that second set to Vise — if we could have won those two sets, the match would have come out entirely different,” said Riley. “I’m super proud of my team but Orcutt Academy is a really good team. I’m looking forward to the next time we play them. That will be on our courts and it will be another battle.”
“It was a long match but luckily it was a beautiful day — we didn’t have the howling wind we played in last week — and it was still daylight (barely) when the match ended,” said Lopez. “We still have to play them again on their court but we have to play Morro Bay Thursday and they always put up a tough battle so our focus is on Morro Bay and not the re-match with Cabrillo.”
Thursday’s match against Morro Bay is back on the Hancock College courts. Cabrillo will host Templeton then.