With essentially a brand new cast of players, the Glendale Community College women's tennis team did something it hadn't done since 1999 — qualify for the Southern California Regionals.
While the Vaqueros would have liked to have extended their season, they made strides to improve the program's outlook.
"It's a tremendous reward just to get this far," Glendale assistant Coach Deo Sy said after seventh-seeded Glendale suffered a 5-0 road loss to second-seeded Mt. San Antonio College in a first-round match Tuesday. "[Glendale Coach Bob Donaghy and I] started this process four years ago when we took over the team and we wanted to continue seeing the players make improvements.
"They've done just that. They've put in a lot of hard work this year and that's because of dedication. The reward is to get here. We lose two players next year and hopefully we will bring in some new players who can fill the void and help us keep going in the right direction. I thought we has a chance to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year and the players were able to rise to the occasion."
Glendale finished 9-8, 4-4 in the Western state Conference for third place. Mt. SAC, which captured the South Coast Conference championship, improved to 14-1-1 and will meet third-seeded Riverside College in a semifinal match Tuesday.
Glendale's best chance at a set victory came in doubles with the tandem of Sofia Tavitian and Allie Amor. The duo held a 7-6 lead before Mt. SAC's duo of Alvenna Lee and Elain Chan rallied for a 9-7 victory.
"Sofia and Allie were playing hard, but they just couldn't close it out," Sy said. "Mt. SAC is No. 2 for a reason and they don't have any weaknesses."
The Mounties, who posted an 8-1 nonconference home victory against Glendale on Feb. 1, received doubles victories from Mariel Bautista and Alyssa Penner (8-2) and Heather Mac and Chanelle Ramirez (8-4). Mt. SAC got singles wins from Penner (6-0, 6-0) and Ramirez (6-0, 6-1).
"All of our players have improved since the first time we play Mt. SAC," Sy said. "They were just a little more precise than us [Tuesday].
"This was a very tough matchup. We can learn and grow from this season. I didn't know the program last made the playoffs in 1999."