Sage Hill duo falls in CIF Individuals round of 32
Playing in what would become the last match of her high school tennis career, Sage Hill School senior Nicole Condas thought back to her time as a freshman on the varsity squad in 2014.
Condas and junior partner Michelle Hung were in a marathon game deep in the second set Tuesday against Manhattan Beach Mira Costa sophomores Audrey Vo and Olga Nagy in a CIF Southern Section Individuals round of 32 match.
Vo was trying to serve out the match, but after eight deuce points and three match points, Condas and Hung finally broke her serve to level the set at 5-5.
“Honestly, that reminded me a lot of when I was just starting out on varsity,” Condas said. “I would be in these ‘battle games,’ and I’m kind of used to it at this point. I feel like I’m kind of used to just battling it out and staying patient.”
Condas and Hung did stay patient, and their level of play improved as the match went on. But their season ended, as Vo and Nagy earned a 6-0, 7-6 (7-1) victory at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center.
Condas and Hung, the Academy League champions, were vying to become the first Sage Hill girls’ tennis doubles team to advance to the CIF Individuals round of 16 since Katie Bick and Rian Billingsley did in 2010. But it was Vo and Nagy, runners-up in the Bay League, who advanced to Wednesday’s round of 16 at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
Still, Condas and Hung could feel they accomplished something despite Tuesday’s loss. They advanced a round further at CIF Individuals than last year, when they lost in the third round.
“It was a big deal,” Sage Hill coach Cierra Gaytan said. “I made sure I told them that after [they advanced past the third round on Nov. 20]. I said, ‘You girls fought so hard and worked so well together.’ It was a huge deal for me as their coach to see them make it this far. Today, they had opportunities. I think the [Mira Costa] team was great, but they were beatable. It just didn’t go their way today.”
The 100-minute match seemed like it would be much shorter, as Vo and Nagy breezed through the first set. They also broke Condas’ serve to open the second set, earning a 2-0 lead.
But the Sage Hill duo eventually got back to 3-3, after breaking Vo’s serve on Hung’s backhand down the line.
“In the second set, we obviously played a lot better and it was obviously a lot more competitive,” Condas said. “We were more aggressive at the net, and I think that definitely helped.”
The Mira Costa tandem won the next two games for a 5-3 lead, before the Lightning rallied to 5-5. After both teams held serve one more time, the second set went to a tiebreaker. But Vo and Nagy won the first five points in the tiebreaker, before Nagy double-faulted. They would clinch the match soon after.
Earning a place as one of the top 32 doubles teams in the section, however, was not lost on Condas, a captain for the Lightning. As a team, Sage Hill won its third straight Academy League title this season, and Condas and Hung earned some individual glory as well.
They finish the season with an 18-4 record as a doubles team.
“We were really bummed after losing in the third round last year,” Condas said. “Coming back this year, it was my goal to get past that point. I’m really happy we did that.”
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