Fountain Valley girls’ tennis upsets top-seeded Palm Desert, advances to CIF Division 2 final
Eat a carb-filled dinner, get to bed early, and show up at the tennis courts at 7 in the morning.
Those were the marching orders for the Fountain Valley High girls’ tennis team, directions they were happy to receive from head coach Harshul Patel after clinching the program’s second CIF Southern Section finals appearance in the past three seasons.
A hot start carried Fountain Valley to a 12-6 win over Palm Desert, as the No. 4-ranked Barons dismissed the top seed in a Division 2 semifinal match on Thursday at home.
Due to the rain this week, the CIF girls’ tennis playoffs have a condensed schedule. The semifinal round moved from Wednesday to Thursday, and now the Barons (14-5) will take on No. 2-seeded Beverly Hills in the championship match at 11:20 a.m. at the Claremont Club.
The Barons’ last CIF finals appearance came in the 2020-21 school year, when Fountain Valley fell to Villa Park 14-4 in the Division 3 final.
Fountain Valley went 5-1 in the opening round of play against the Aztecs (17-1). The doubles teams of Rene Do and Anh Thu Truong, Sophie Vu and Katie Lam, and Melody Hom and Kendra Ly did not drop a set through two rotations. The Barons went 8-1 as a team in doubles.
After clinching the win, and with daylight fading, the Barons defaulted two of the three remaining singles matches. Jaslyn Nguyen went undefeated in singles for Fountain Valley, and Gisele Rico also picked up a set in singles.
“I haven’t felt this much joy in tennis,” Hom, a senior captain for the Barons, said. “I don’t think that we were expecting to win today, but we just came out swinging, literally. The girls just did so well, and I’m so proud.”
A high school tennis match does not often have a true home-court advantage, but Fountain Valley received an emotional boost from an estimated 80 spectators, many of them coming from the Barons boys’ and girls’ tennis programs.
Patel said the Barons have played well since being battle-tested in the Wave League finals, in which he said his players endured a few close losses. They have since rebounded.
“The reason why they lost was because they didn’t play their game, and they were playing tight,” Patel said. “This is exactly what we’ve been working on ever since — how you can win those matches, versus you lose those matches. We changed the whole mindset ever since that day.
“… All those matches after that day, all practices after that day on, it’s always about going for your shots, believing in your game, and results don’t matter. Just go out and play your tennis game, and play with a lot of faith, hope, and have lots of fun.”
CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals
At Fountain Valley High
Fountain Valley 12, Palm Desert 6
Singles: Gisele Rico (FV) def. Sophia Jacobs (PD) 7-6, lost to Rochelle Suarez (PD) 4-6, lost to Delaney Tingle (PD) by forfeit; Katelyn Nguyen (FV) 3-6, forfeit, 0-6; Jaslyn Nguyen (FV) win by forfeit, 6-1, 6-4.
Doubles: Rene Do/Anh Thu Truong (FV) def. Leyla Rizvanbegovic/Sheyla Rizvanbegovic (PD) 6-2, def. Allison Smith/Samantha Lee (PD) 6-3, lost to Zoe Lopez/Audrey Park (PD) 3-6; Sophie Vu/Katie Lam (FV) 7-6, 7-5, 6-1; Melody Hom/Kendra Ly (FV) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.
For more sports stories, visit latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/sports or follow us on Twitter @DailyPilotSport.
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.