Girls tennis: Tough day for Empire teams in NCS team playoffs

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cardinal Newman's Preston Bernd hits a forehand return during her singles match against Branson on Tuesday (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Cardinal Newman’s Preston Bernd hits a forehand return during her singles match against Branson on Tuesday (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Tuesday was not a good day on the courts for the Redwood Empire’s only two representatives in the North Coast Section team tennis playoffs.

In fact, neither Cardinal Newman (Division 2) nor Petaluma (Division 1) won a set. The Cardinals were beaten at home by Branson, while Petaluma was no match for Dougherty Valley in San Ramon.

See the girls in action here

The closest match of the day was No. 3 doubles at Cardinal Newman. The Cardinals’ Molly Wolmuth and Tasha Schafer were in both sets to the finish. However, Madeline Lennon and Jane Hatfield beat them 6-4, 6-4.

The closest Petaluma got to winning a set was in No. 2 doubles. Giulia Brena and Ada Payne lost 6-4 in the first set and 6-1 in the second.

Petaluma, the Sonoma County League champion, was seeded No. 15 and got a tough draw in No. 2 Dougherty Valley. The Wildcats, the Diablo Foothill Athletic League champion, brought an 18-0 record into the tournament.

“It was obvious why they are the No. 2 seed,” Petaluma coach Doug Cox said. “We battled hard, but they just had too much talent to overcome.”

Maddie Thomas, who has won the SCL singles championship two years in a row, lost her match Tuesday 6-1, 6-2.

Cardinal Newman, co-champs of the North Bay League with Maria Carrillo, was seeded No. 6 while Branson was No. 3. The Ross school is going after its third straight Division 2 championship. The Cardinals got the home match because of their league title. Branson, from the Marin County Athletic League, had a 12-9 regular-season record.

Cardinals coach Tony Greco had mixed feelings after the match.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t do better,” he said. “We had opportunities in a few matches to turn things around but couldn’t win points when we needed to.

“On the other hand, I’m very proud of what these girls accomplished. Maria Carrillo had been dominating the league in recent years and we tied them for the title and then beat them last week in a playoff to get the NCS invitation.

“I thought we’d come out with more energy against Branson. We didn’t have the fire we had for the playoff match with Carrillo.”

Emily Greco, the Cardinals’ best player, lost her match to Anastasia Bryan 6-2, 6-2.

“I didn’t go into the match with the right mindset,” she said. “I wasn’t confident I could win and went out and played not to lose.”

Greco started quickly in the first set and had a 2-1 lead. However, Bryan won the next five games. The second set was 2-2 and then Bryan took the next four games to win the match.

The team tournament finals are this Saturday.

Santa Rosa High hosts the NCS singles and doubles tournament next Tuesday and Wednesday. The NBL and SCL will both be represented.

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