Falling by the slimmest of margins, the Escalon Cougars tennis team bowed out of the Section playoffs on Thursday, May 5.
They lost by a 5-4 final to visiting West Campus of Sacramento, the contest coming down to the final match of the afternoon. With the loss, the Cougars end their season as a team, though some players will continue on to the individual sections later this month.
On May 5, the Cougars battled down to the last point, said head coach Julianne Eavenson.
“We were very evenly matched as a team,” the coach said of facing off with West Campus. “Everyone fought hard during their games.”
West Campus took three out of four match wins in singles play; Josh Schut at boys number one singles went down 2-6, 5-7 while number two Nikolai Lorenzo battled in a 0-6, 4-6 match. Isabella Nalbandian lost 3-6, 1-6 in girls number one singles and earning the lone singles win on the day was number two seed Rylie Lattig for the girls, losing the first set 4-6 before coming back to win the next two, 6-4, 6-3.
“Nikolai played half the season as the number two (boys) singles which is not an easy position to be in, but still continues to have a great attitude about it,” Eavenson noted of some standouts this season. “He is hard working and committed, he has the best attitude … and is always wanting to get better and improve for the next match.
EJ Lewis and Sawyer Mello were 6-4, 6-1 winners at boys number one doubles. Number two doubles team Daniel Adams and Collin Haskin lost in a 2-6, 0-6 match.
Both girls doubles teams picked up wins for the Cougars, number one seed Makayla Wentzell and Sophia Martin battling through some tough calls and losing the first set 4-6, coming back with a 6-4 win in the second and then taking the forfeit win as the teams were knotted in the third set.
“The score was 5-5 in the third set and their girls seemed to be exhausted,” Eavenson said of the West Campus doubles. “When it would have to go to seven points or a seven point tiebreaker, their girls said they didn’t want to continue and had to leave so they forfeited at 5-5.”
Number two girls doubles Lily McCracken and Laura Thompson won their match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 and it was the mixed doubles playing the final match that went the way of West Campus, Landon Underwood and Kali Castellanos fighting hard but falling 4-6, 3-6.
“Kali has the best attitude, is so kind and has such a drive to be better,” noted Eavenson. “She always encourages everyone and is an amazing player, this was her first year playing as a freshman but she has come so far and improved so much.”
Eavenson, wrapping up her first season at the helm of the team, was pleased with the efforts she saw on the court as well as the growth in many players.
“We are out of playoffs but on May 16 (Monday) Isabella Nalbandian in singles, Lily McCracken and Makayla Wentzell in doubles, will be going to the Individual Sections Tournament at Oak Park in Stockton.”