By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A trio of tennis players from Sonoma Valley and Petaluma high schools punched tickets to the North Coast Section singles and doubles tournaments with wins in Friday’s Sonoma County League tournament.
Playing at Santa Rosa JC’s newly rechristened Izzy Derkos tennis courts, Petaluma’s Maddie Thomas outlasted teammate Nicoline Pedersen, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, to win the singles title.
Though Thomas went 11-1 as the No. 1 singles player for the Trojans during the SCL season, Pedersen was a strong No. 2. She went 12-0 in SCL and upset Analy’s top player, Amanda Broffman, in the second round of the tournament. Broffman handed Thomas her only loss in league play.
“I expected (Pedersen) to be amazing and she was,” Thomas said. “She’s really hard to play, even at practice.”
The two girls, both sophomores, will undoubtedly be seeing a lot of one another in years to come.
“They’re very close in skill level,” said first-year Petaluma coach Scott Robertson, a former player at Casa Grande.
“All the way through (the bracket), we wanted it to be like this,” Thomas said of the two teammates meeting in the final. “It was just important to us that a Petaluma player won.”
On the doubles side, Sonoma Valley’s duo of Stephanie Brett and Michelle Stovall rallied from nearly losing in straight sets to defeat Analy’s Becca Graff and Natalie Ambrosio, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
After dropping the first set and being down 5-4 with Analy serving in the second, Stovall and Brett capitalized on a handful of errors to rally and force a tie-breaker, which Sonoma won. Stovall and Brett then pressed their advantage to take a 5-0 lead in the third set before Analy recovered, but by then it was too late.
Brett, a foreign exchange student from Stuttgart, Germany, in her junior year at Sonoma, is the third member of her family to play tennis for the Dragons. She follows her brothers Benjamin and Florian.
Brett said she had beaten both Graff and Ambrosio in singles play but was impressed with the way they played as a twosome.
“They were both really good at the net, and that’s really important in doubles,” Graff said. “We had a pretty big challenge against them.
Like the team of Graff and Ambrosio, Brett and Stovall are their school’s No. 3 and No. 4 singles players during the regular season. Both doubles teams had to learn how to play together quickly for the SCL meet.
“We like each other and we work well together,” Stovall said. “I didn’t have any idea as far as how it would go.”
Friday’s winners qualified for the NCS singles and doubles tournaments on Nov. 13 and 14 at Oakley.
Though Graff and Ambrosio missed out on the NCS doubles meet, both will play for designated SCL champion Analy in the North Coast section team tournament, which begins Tuesday.
Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat’s online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.