Girls tennis: Santa Rosa High duo takes NBL doubles’ title

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Santa Rosa High girls tennis team’s No. 1-seeded doubles duo of Haley Lyons and Laurel Ockenden outlasted Windsor’s top pair of Zoe Brook and Kathryn Kuklinski to win the North Bay League girls’ tennis doubles championship 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday afternoon.

Both teams found themselves rallying at some point in the final day of the two-day tournament, as Brook and Kuklinski rallied in the semis to make it to the final, and Lyons and Ockenden rallied in the championship match to win it.

The Windsor squad dropped the first set of their semis match to Cardinal Newman’s Anna Hartman and Molly Wollmuth, before they battled to win the final two sets 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“During the break, I talked to them a little about the different roles they should be playing, and the girls really took to it, and they were able to win their match and move into the finals,” Windsor Athletic Director Jeff Hardie said.

Hardie was filling in for Jaguars’ tennis coach Xerxes Whitney, who was traveling to compete in the New York Marathon on Sunday.

“Just getting to the finals, for them, is huge for Windsor,” Hardie said. “We’re really proud of them.”

After the three-set semifinal, the Windsor duo faced the singles No. 1 and No. 2 players of Lyons and Ockenden.

“We were definitely tired, but I think it actually pushed us more because we knew we could do it,” Brook said about their motivation for the final.

Santa Rosa’s Lyons and Ockenden earned a spot in the final with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Montgomery’s Samantha Eberhart and Delaney Seymour.

“I think we went into it kind of cocky, actually,” Lyons said after the game. “We have to let go of our mistakes and not let our bad shots keep us down every point.”

They had to adjust their game when they fell behind in the first set, Lyons added.

“We had to let go of the outside stress and pressure and once we had a side talk, we were good to go,” Ockenden said. “She keeps me anchored, and that’s what works for us. We talk after every point and keep each other down to earth.”

The pair helped motivate each other as they chipped away at Windsor’s early lead to take the first set 6-4.

The Panthers’ duo carried momentum to the second set and didn’t let up as they jumped ahead to a 4-1 lead and didn’t look back, taking the second set to win the title.

As the season ends for Brook and Kuklinski, they couldn’t have gone out any better than that, Brook said.

“The season was a struggle. We’re still new in the league,” she said. “I think we ended on a high note for sure.”

For Brook, a senior, it was the finishing touch on her high school tennis career. Brook taught Kuklinski, a sophomore, how to play tennis.

“We play really well together,” Kuklinski said. “She’s my best coach.”

Lyons and Ockenden hope to continue their stellar seasons at the NCS tournament.

“We’re going to try our best,” Lyons said. “Hopefully we come out with a couple wins because it’s hard over there. It’s a tough tournament.”

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