Before every Valencia match, scorekeeper Sandra Cardona highlights her friend Jenny Gonzalez's three singles victories in yellow ink. Cardona hasn't been wrong yet.
But Tuesday, Cardona hesitated to highlight Gonzalez's scores before the match.
"I was nervous," she said. "The team said, 'You better not highlight it, these guys are pretty good.' "
Top-seeded Pasadena Poly still wasn't good enough to hand Gonzalez her first defeat, but it was good enough to beat a lethargic Valencia team, 13-5, to win the Southern Section Division IV title at the Claremont Club.
Cardona's doubt seemed to characterize Valencia's mood. Pasadena Poly took five of the first six sets--all except for Gonzalez--and nine of the first 12.
"We were a little intimidated going in," said Renee Williams, Valencia's No. 2 singles player. "We hit with a couple girls on their team and we knew they were good. They just have more talent than us. There wasn't much we could do."
Valencia Coach Mike McCall realized a victory might be tough for his unseeded team, which had pulled off two upsets to reach the finals, but he thought it was possible.
"I expected to win," he said. "If you don't expect to win, why bother showing up?"
Williams and Gonzalez barely did. Both missed school Monday because of swollen glands and a fever. Williams, who lost two 6-0 sets before winning her third, 6-1, spent 18 hours sleeping before boarding a bus for Claremont.
"We played without a lot of energy and intensity, however, I don't think it changed the way the match ended up," McCall said.
Pasadena Poly's No. 1 singles player, Miki Kanemitsu, who gave Gonzalez her best match in a 6-4 loss, said she could tell her team was awake.
"I think we were really motivated to play," she said. "I felt like we pretty much dominated from the start."
With the victory, Pasadena Poly improved to 21-2 and won its second consecutive Division IV title. Valencia finished 21-4.
"We had a great season," McCall said. "We won a lot of close matches. I'm satisfied with the effort. It's too bad we had to lose on our last day."
Gonzalez would have liked to win too.
"I wanted one of those (Southern Section) patches," she said. "I was going to buy a school jacket and put one on it."
Gonzalez might still be able to buy that jacket if she can win the section individual title next week at the Irvine Racquet Club.