In number one doubles, coach Somers put freshman Melinda Akerbrant and senior Jenni Heinser together, and she made the good choice, as my teammates showed a very strong level and won 8/6. Doubles number two was the same as usual – freshman Yurie Hashigutchi with junior Julia Wartenburger – but even though the pair showed a lot of positive energy and had good sequences, they did not put enough of the balls away, and lost 5/8. The third doubles changed too; I played with my compatriot junior Cecila Gratian. It was the first time that we played together and our doubles was very good: good consistency, high positive energy, good volleys and interceptions. Even down 6/7, we got at least 7 game points to tie, but unfortunately we could not make it, and lost 6/8.
We started the singles down 0/1. Once again, I played the singles and did not get the chance to see some of my teammates’ matches. Number three Gratian was the first one to finish; she played one of her best matches and won in hardly 45 minutes 6/0-6/0. Number five Hashigutchi had a very tough match against an opponent that was stronger physically; Hashigutchi was too often passive faced with an aggressive UC Santa Barabara player that put a lot of pressure on her. So, my teammate lost 3/6-2/6. I had a frustrating match, for I played well, but my opponent played better, and was very lucky as she succeeded in everything she tried – even the most difficult things. All the games were tight but I lost 1/6-3/6.
Heinser won her match with some difficulties, even though the score does not reflect that (6/2-6/1). She could not hit a backhand normally and had to slice all of them against an aggressive opponent that was hitting the ball hard. Akerbrant in singles number four had a tough and intense fight that lasted almost three hours. After losing the first set 2/6, my teammate won the second set 7/6(6) by being consistent and putting more pressure on her opponent. The third set was tight until 3/3;Akerbrant made more mistakes again and lost 3/6. Wartenburger also had a hard match against a powerful player that was hitting hard shots. Having a hard time finding energy in the first set, Wartenburger lost in the tiebreaker (6/8), but she refocused and made her opponent make mistakes, she won the second set 6/3. The third set was intense and my teammate was consecutively up 2/1, 3/2 and 4/3, but her opponent did not give up and hit the ball even harder until she won 6/4.
Coach Somers was still positive at the end of the game. “We fought hard and all had good matches. We’re very close to this team; we lost 2/5 but we could have won 4/3, and that’s why I will never insist enough: we got to win the doubles point to make things easier during the singles and put pressure on our opponents”.
So, we had to be ready for the next game against St Mary’s, the next day. We left a foggy San Francisco at 10 am, and started the doubles with warm weather at Moraga.
The doubles teams were the same as the ones against Santa Barbara. Akerbrant-Heinser won their match against an experienced St Mary’s doubles team (8/5). Hashigutchi and Wartenburger were not consistent enough to win against powerful players and lost 4/8. Gratian and I had a very slow start and were down 0/3 quickly and we were unable to recover; it was frustrating because after this slow start, we play very well, and put our opponent down mentally. We lost 5/8.
Most of us were tired and had little energy – or maybe not enough guts – to win against this strong St Mary’s team. Wartenburger didn’t feel her shots and was exhausted after such tough match against Santa Barbara, so she lost quite easily 2/6-1/6. Gratian lost the first set 0/6. In the second set, she finally played her game, but it was a little late, she lost 5/7. Akerbrant played very well, but lost her concentration because of contentious calls from her opponent. As an inexperiened freshman, she didn’t get over it, didn’t know how to deal with it and this prevented her from winning (4/6-5/7). Hashigutchi also played very well, but she was too passive at the most crucial points against an opponent that was very aggressive and fearless. Her score was the same as Akerbrant’s. Heinser played extremely against a talented freshman. But Heinser is talented too, and she has the experience on top of that,she made her opponent make mistakes, my teammate won 6/1-6/1.
My match was hard as my opponent was very inconsistent, but surprising. After being up 3/0 in the first set, 30 minutes later, I was down 3/5, but I fought and we finally played a tiebreaker for which I was down 2/4. I became more consistent and I finally won the tiebreaker 7/5. The second set was tight, but my opponent made less mistakes than usual and was very aggressive, so I lost it 4/6. As we were the last match in play and that my team had already lost, we played a super tie breaker in 10 points. Once again I was consecutively down 1/3 and 3/5, until I tied and was even up 9/5. Then, she made three winners and came back at 8/9, but put the next ball in the net, so I won 10/8.
My coach was frustrated, but confident because she said we were very close to St Mary’s that is a good team winning against high ranked teams. She added we needed to work on our team and competitive spirit to start winning.
This weekend, we have two challenging games against University of Pacific and UC Hawaii.