The Kimball High girls tennis team pulled off an upset victory over Mountain House on Tuesday, moving the Jaguars to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 championship game on Thursday at Mountain House High.
It was the first loss for the Mustang team, which had a 14-0 record in the Western Athletic Conference, went into the Division 4 bracket as the No. 1 seed, and defeated Dixon High 9-0 in the first round of the championship tournament last week.
Kimball went 7-5 in the Valley Oak League and just made the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in Division 4. Kimball tied with Sierra for third place in the VOL and had the advantage for playoff seeding based its a 6-3 win over Sierra on Sept. 13; Sierra defeated Kimball 5-4 on Oct. 9.
“In my four years, we’ve never even had a winning record. This was a big deal,” said senior No. 1 singles player Maxine Jaque. “Everyone was close this year and everyone was excited about it. And it’s my senior year and I’ve been with the team for all these years through our losing records.”
It’s the second time a Kimball girls tennis team has advanced to the postseason tournament since the school was established in 2009. The Jaguars were eliminated in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.
“To have a winning record on a team that’s excited and competitive, and to make it this far, I told all of the girls we have nothing to lose. Now it’s just for fun,” Jaque said. “We already made history at Kimball, so now we’re going as far as we can, so I’m excited for finals on Thursday.”
The Jaguars will play their first SJS championship match against Valley Oak League rival Central Catholic on Thursday. Central Catholic won both of their league matches 6-3. The match will be at 3 p.m. at the Oak Park Tennis Center in Stockton.
Kimball took an early advantage in Tuesday’s match, winning the top four singles matches in straight sets. Jaque won her match 6-3, 6-1, senior Hana Lucero won her match 6-0, 6-2, junior Fayth Hinojosa won 6-0, 6-0 and Samantha Nguyen won 7-5, 6-2.
Mountain House won the two other singles matches, with freshman Sana Patel winning 6-3, 6-3 and freshman Kylie DeCroos winning 7-5, 6-1.
That left three doubles matches to decide the outcome of the team match. Mountain House juniors Ify Ikechiuku and Crystal Chum won the No. 1 doubles match 6-3, 6-0, but the Jaguars clinched the team victory when junior Sarah Wilkinson and freshman Mariya Hinojosa defeated Mountain House freshman Udaiya Bommudurai and sophomore Erin Su 6-1, 6-3 in the No. 3 doubles match.
Wilkinson said they knew a lot was riding on the outcome of their match.
“It’s pretty serious,” she said. “Kimball has never been this far before. There’s a lot of pressure in that.”
The No. 2 doubles match looked like it could go either way. Kimball junior Angel Au and freshman Kate Blumenfeld won the first set 6-3, but Mountain House seniors Tiffany Deng and Kaitlyn Kim came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the second set 6-4. Because the team match had already been decided, they played an abbreviated tiebreaker, which Kimball won 10-3.
Kimball 6, Mountain House 3
Tuesday, Mountain House High
Maxine Jaque, Kimball, def. Elyse Low, Mountain House, 6-3, 6-1.
Hana Lucero, Kimball, def. Katherine Smith, Mountain House, 6-0, 6-1.
Fayth Hinojosa, Kimball, def. Saanvi Chilakapati, Mountain House, 6-0, 6-0.
Samantha Nguyen, Kimball, def. Noor Manjal, Mountain House, 7-5, 6-2.
Sana Patel, Mountain House, def. Maaham Hassan, Kimball, 6-3, 6-3.
Kylie DeCroos, Mountain House, def. Janet Nguyen, Kimball, 7-5, 6-1.
Ify Ikechiuku and Crystal Chum, Mountain House, def. Tiffany Nguyen and Deeksha Shakya, Kimball, 6-3, 6-0.
Angel Au and Kate Blumenfeld, Kimball, def. Tiffany Deng and Kaitlyn Kim, Mountain House, 6-3, 4-6, 10-3.
Sarah Wilkinson and Mariya Hinojosa, Kimball, def. Udaiya Bommudurai and Erin Su, Mountain House, 6-1, 6-3.