By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SEBASTOPOL — Beating the heat and Healdsburg, the Analy girls are improving in a challenge with Petaluma for the Sonoma County League tennis title.
Without dropping a set Tuesday, the host Tigers are getting stronger singles play to complement some of the SCL’s top doubles pairs. Petaluma has been the deepest team, going undefeated in the first half of SCL competition.
“Everyone’s really improved. I’m kind of surprised how well we’ve been playing,” said Amanda Broffman, No. 1 singles for Analy.
With their only league loss to Petaluma, the Tigers are second in SCL play. Sonoma Valley and El Molino have been competitive with Healdsburg.
Piner has several very good players, but not much depth. Elsie Allen has struggled. Those teams replaced typically strong Windsor and Casa Grande, who moved over to the North Bay League.
Leading the Tigers is Broffman, who played No. 3 singles a year ago. While not a power player, Broffman has an array of shots and stays in rallies, often until opponents make mistakes.
“Most of my game is mental,” Broffman said. “But I want to improve on winners.”
Tuesday’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Healdsburg’s top singles player Gina Safford was another victory of attrition for Broffman. Most games were tight with several going to deuce.
What kept Safford playing catch-up were unforced errors. The powerful right-hander needs to be more consistent with a solid serve and strong forehand.
“It was a tough match, but it’s fun to play against a lot of strong players,” Safford said.
In her fourth year on varsity, Safford enjoys working with other Healdsburg players to help the Greyhounds improve on the season.
Healdsburg’s closest match Tuesday had Emma Linowski coming up short against Becca Graff with the Analy player winning 6-3, 6-3.
The athleticism, strong serve, and deep shots from Graff were enough to overcome Linowski’s sharp backhand and passing shots. Linowski held serve to tie the second set before Graff pounded her way to take the next three games and the match.
Improved singles play could give Analy a chance against Petaluma.
Petaluma is aiming for the school’s first SCL girls tennis team title since 2008. That championship capped a run of four consecutive league crowns for the Trojans.
Analy last took the league championship in 2009. Windsor won the past two titles.
This season’s league title could be decided when Petaluma and Analy close SCL play with their Oct. 23 match.
“We should give Petaluma a run for their money,” Broffman said.