BY HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The North Coast Section team tennis tournament begins Tuesday and in the opening round of Division 2, Cardinal Newman will host Branson.
The Cardinals, co-champs of the NBL, and Petaluma, the SCL winner, are the only two Empire teams competing.
The Trojans are in the Division 1 bracket and were handed the No. 15 seed. They will visit No. 2 Dougherty Valley on Tuesday.
Newman, the No. 6 seed, got the home match over No. 3 Branson because it tied with Maria Carrillo for the NBL title. Branson finished behind Tamalpais in the Marin County Athletic League.
The NBL gets one automatic invitation to NCS and that went to the Cardinals because last week they defeated Carrillo in a playoff to determine which school would get the bid. The Pumas did not apply for an NCS invitation.
Petaluma had a 14-1 record in the regular season but Dougherty Valley was a perfect 18-0 and won the Diablo Foothill Athletic League in the process.
“I’m sure Dougherty has an excellent team,” Petaluma coach Doug Cox said. “I don’t know any more about them other than their record and the fact they won a tough league.”
Petaluma is led by Maddie Thomas. She won her second consecutive league singles championship on Nov. 1.
“In the last month, she really stepped up her game,” Cox said. “She wanted to prove something in the league singles tournament and she did.” During the regular season, Thomas lost twice to Analy’s Jade Wight. She beat Wight in the tourney finals.
The second round of the NCS Tournament is Thursday with finals in both divisions scheduled for Saturday.
The NCS singles and doubles tournament will take place starting next Tuesday at Santa Rosa High School.