Just like last year, it all came down to No. 3 doubles when the other eight matches split 4-4. And just like last year, the Vista del Lago girls’ tennis team lost the first set. And just like last year, the Eagles took a 5-1 lead in the second set and looked like they were going to rally. And then it all fell apart.
But that was last year against American Canyon.
This year, the doubles tandem of Ellie Nguyen and Sophia Ammons took the second set 6-1. They then fell behind 5-4 before reeling off 12 of the next 13 points to win the match 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 and clinch a berth for the Eagles in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finals by beating Vanden of Fairfield 5-4 on Tuesday. The Eagles (13-8), seeded second in the Division IV tournament, play fourth-seeded Sierra of Manteca on Thursday for the championship.
“I knew those girls had it what it took to win, but even I was doubting my faith when they fell behind in the last set,” Vista coach Marc Erwin said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the entire team, but especially Sophia and Ellie, who had the weight of the entire match on their shoulders.”
The two teams split the six singles matches, with individual section semifinalist Sofia Smith winning at No. 1, Sydnee Tan winning at No. 4 and Regan Martell winning at No. 6 – all in straight sets. The teams also split the first two doubles matches, with Camila Wyatt and Brooke Van Buskirk winning for Vista at No. 2.
So it all came down to the last match of the day, and with the sun firmly below the horizon, Nguyen and Ammons pulled it out.
“I know my eyes are way older than theirs, but I couldn’t see a thing,” Erwin said. “We made sure all four players said they could still see, and they all said they could. But I feel badly for the Vanden team. They played really well, too, and to have it come down to a few games in the dark was really a shame. Their coaches and players were all class.”
Now, the Eagles have advanced further than they ever have in the 10-year history with an opportunity to bring home Vista’s first section title in tennis.
“It sure would be nice to win, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s all gravy from here,” Erwin said. “This team has exceeded my expectations in every way, and I’m so glad they’re rewarded with a chance to hang a big banner in the gym.”