Sage Hill girls’ tennis bows out to Beckman in first round

For the second time in October, the Sage Hill School girls’ tennis team lost to Beckman by the same 12-6 score.

The latest setback ended Sage Hill’s season on Wednesday.

Despite a spirited effort at home, the Lightning lost in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Third-seeded Beckman (20-5) moved on to play the winner of Dana Hills and Santa Barbara San Marcos in the second round on Friday. The Patriots, the second-place team from the tough Pacific Coast League, won the Division 2 title last season.

Sage Hill finished 13-6 overall.

“We gave full effort today,” Sage Hill coach Whit Kenerson said. “Maybe we weren’t in the right head space, since a lot of our seniors have college applications due soon. The score may have been the same, but the individual matches were more competitive.”

The Lightning got on the board first with Morgan Mann’s 6-1 singles win over Kayla Cruz in the first set. The senior controlled the pace with her strong serves, clinching the final game with a front stroke laser over the net.

Sage Hill’s Miya Stauss and Alexis Ha dropped their respective first sets, 6-3 and 6-1. Stauss clawed her way to a 3-1 lead over Victoria Aguirre, before Aguirre secured the final five games.

The best Lightning performance came from the doubles team of Julia Yuen and Maddy Dao. They battled back and forth in the first set, with a Dao backhand snagging the final point.

Dao persevered with a knee brace, teaming up with Yuen to win two sets.

“Really proud of all our doubles,” Kenerson said. “Julia and Madison set the tone, and we were really close on a number of other ones. A couple of those flip, and maybe we have the momentum in the later sets.”

Sage Hill’s Hannah Herin and Kimi Reddy surged back from a 4-1 deficit, closing the gap to 5-4. The doubles team sent too many returns over the baseline, losing 6-4 in the first set.

Up 4-2, Beckman ratcheted up the intensity. Aguirre jumped all over Mann to win 6-0. She sent a barrage of powerful strokes to keep Mann off-balance.

“Vicky was really successful today,” Patriots coach Nick Friendt said. “She won 18 games and only gave up three. It didn’t come down to this, but in a 9-9 tie, those 15 extra games won would’ve been huge for us.”

Beckman’s Kaitlin Nguyen similarly dominated Stauss 6-1. She painted the corners of the court to make her opponent chase over all seven games.

Ha scored a 6-3 triumph over Cruz, Beckman’s No. 1 singles player. Her accurate directional strokes didn’t give Cruz a chance to return cleanly.

“She’ll be back next year,” Kenerson said of Ha, a freshman. “She focuses really well, has great ground strokes, and has a bit of power. When she doesn’t try to simply smash the ball, she thrives.”

The Sage Hill doubles team of Karina Grover and Miranda deBruyne edged out a 7-5 win. After trailing 4-1, deBruyne’s height at the net powered the comeback. Grover and deBruyne also won another set.

“We weren’t at our peak today, for whatever reason,” said Kenerson, who led Sage Hill to a 12-0 San Joaquin League title. “I’m excited for next year, with Alexis coming on strong in her first full season.”

SAM DODGE is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @samgododge