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Section Title In Hand For Cougar Tennis Team

Becoming the third team in Escalon's spring sports season to win the Section title, Cougar tennis players had matches Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the way to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III crown.

The squad rolled past Argonaut in a 7-0 thrashing Monday, May 18 on the home court in Escalon, the first of their three victories. The quarterfinal match with Argonaut saw an overwhelming win for Daniel Thompson at boys singles, 6-0, 6-0. Kaitlyn Brayton emerged victorious, 6-2, 7-5, in girls singles.

Doubles play saw Vince Aufdermaur and Jon Segale win a 6-3,7-5 decision and Lance Reece and Eric Metzler battled to a win in a three-set match. Girls doubles featured Presli Pilati and Katie Aprile winning their match and Megan Merseth and Kristi Rigg doing the same. Mixed doubles for the Cougars in the Section playoff run were Robbie Hoile and Julia Thompson.

Traveling on Wednesday, May 20, the Cougars faced off with River City, the team that beat them last year by a 4-3 margin in the Section final. Getting just a bit of revenge, the squad came away with a 5-2 win to set up Friday's finale against West Campus of Sacramento.

"Kaitlyn went three sets for the first time all year," said coach Dan Thompson of Wednesday's semifinal round. "She got off to a bit of a slow start, dropped the first set, then took over."

Daniel Thompson took a two-set win in the other singles match, setting the table for the doubles squads to at least split their matches for the team win.

"Julia and Robbie played mixed doubles and they dominated, they were really strong," Thompson said of their 6-0, 6-3 win.

Segale and Aufdermaur were pushed nearly to the limit but came up winners.

"They went two sets in a very close match," Thompson said of their 7-5, 7-5 victory.

Metzler and Reece battled but took the loss, 6-1, 7-5.

"They fought hard against a tough opponent," Thompson said.

The girls doubles of Pilati and Aprile was a winner at 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

"Theirs was a pretty competitive match, they won the first, dropped the second and cruised in the third," said Thompson.

Rigg and Merseth took a loss at the second girls doubles, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

Still, the win propelled Escalon into the Section final, dethroning the defending champion along the way. They hosted West Campus, a Sacramento area school, as is River City, on Friday, May 22 and took a 5-2 win off the court to claim the Section title, joining softball and golf as the Section winners for Escalon this season

"What an exciting match," said Thompson.

Easy wins by Thompson in boys doubles, Brayton in girls singles and Pilati and Aprile in girls doubles put the Cougars in good shape early, but the West Campus Warriors then won the first boys doubles match to put the contest at 3-1 with three matches still going on.

Mixed doubles, the second boys doubles and the second girls doubles were left to battle it out.

Thompson said he felt it would be the mixed doubles tandem of Thompson and Hoile that would solidify the win but when they started to struggle and actually dropped the first set, Thompson said his second girls doubles team found a way to win.

"Megan Merseth and Kristi Rigg, when that girls doubles match ended and they won, that was the clincher for us, that's when the crowd erupted," said Thompson. "The mixed doubles was struggling and the girls came through ... good for them."

That 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win put the Cougars up 4-1 and even wins in the final two matches couldn't lift West Campus to victory.

The teams split the final two, Metzler and Reece falling in an epic battle, Hoile and Thompson winning in much the same fashion.

For the match, Thompson was a 6-3, 6-2 winner at boys singles and Brayton cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win in girls singles.

"This is the third year in a row Kaitlyn has had a perfect record, that's just a really special thing," Thompson said.

Segale and Aufdermaur fought to a 6-4, 7-5 loss in what their coach classified as "just a tough match" and Metzler and Reece, in the other boys doubles, battled in another closely contested match, 7-5, 6-4.

"I'm really proud of them, both of those boys doubles teams need to hold their heads high," Thompson said.

Pilati and Aprile cruised in a 6-0, 6-1 match to open girls doubles, with Merseth and Rigg getting the clincher. Hoile and Thompson battled back after losing the first set in a tiebreaker, 6-7 (7-5) to win the next two 6-2, 6-4 and take the match.

"It was a perfect season," Thompson pointed out of his team's 18-0 run, including a 12-0 mark as Trans-Valley League champions, a 3-0 start in preseason play and the 3-0 run in the Section playoffs.

"In the past two years, we've lost just one match and that was last year at the finals, to River City," he added.

Undefeated individuals this season included Brayton, both Daniel and Julia Thompson, Aprile and Pilati.

"We had so many senior boys, and Megan Merseth, a senior girl, it was just great for them to go out on top," Thompson said of those taking the court for the Section title match. "This was a well deserved victory ... what a great season."