Despite running on reserves, the Davis High girls tennis team exhausted every last bit of energy it had left Wednesday in a 7-2 loss to Granite Bay in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship match.
The defeat came as a blow to the fatigued Blue Devils, who had toppled three opponents to make it into the finals — two in the previous two days. DHS bested Del Oro (8-1) in last week’s first round, Rocklin (7-2) in the quarterfinals Monday, and Oak Ridge (6-3) in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Meanwhile, a seemingly invigorated Grizzly squad took its home courts by storm, winning sets early and often. The six singles matches that began prior to the doubles quickly slipped out of the favor of the Devils.
Granite Bay’s No. 3 Kammi Kecki looked especially energized in her match against DHS’ Kailynn Yang, who quickly dropped a set 6-0. Kecki’s power continued to overwhelm Yang in the second set, eventually earning a 6-0, 6-0 shutout.
In a neighboring court, No. 1 Blue Devil Inés Guinard faced a similar ferocity across the net from Chloe Forlini. The Grizzly seemed to have all the answers in a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Granite Bay’s Lily Forlini had a tiresome match with No. 2 Cat Paw U, which was brought to a 6-1, 6-1 close for another host victory. Devil No. 5 Angela Donahue poured sweat as she exited the court after a 6-2, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Lauren Bonham.
With the Grizzlies just one win from being crowned the section champions, applause carried into earshot from a faraway court. The Blue Devil fan club was honoring No. 6 Jenny Mould as she emerged victorious over Kendyl Talley in a 6-1, 7-6 (11-9) match.
The rally continued as the Davis’ No.1 doubles team, Kelly Chuck and Bailey Gary, carried themselves to a win on the backs of their unmatched speed in front of the net.
“Kelly and Bailey have so much chemistry, and it shows,” said Devil coach Sally Hosley. “Jenna also did fabulous in her singles. She had a tough match, but hung in there to win.”
But Hosley, who had held some hope for a DHS turnaround, was discouraged by news that the two other doubles matches had gone in favor of Granite Bay.
Shortly thereafter, Blue Devil No. 4 singles player Ceci Cajandig dropped the final set of her long, determined match, falling 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 to Kayla Cline. A congregated Grizzly crowd had lent their enthusiastic cheers to Cline as soon as DHS’ fate in the finals was sealed.
Hosley found the outburst a bit inappropriate.
“When we played Oak Ridge we were up 5-0 right away,” said the veteran coach. “The first thing we talked about was how to win with respect and grace, so there was no cheering or over-celebrating, as what we’ve seen (Wednesday).”
The Blue Devils entered into the section playoffs after an undefeated run through the Delta Valley Conference.
When DHS similarly blew away the conference competition last year, the squad was knocked out in the Sac-Joaquin semifinals.
“Their hard work got them to where they are today,” Hosley said of the locals during Wednesday’s finals. “More important than their performance (Wednesday) is their sportsmanship, attitude, graciousness and their character.”
And the season isn’t quite over for the Devils. They will get a day to recharge before meeting the Sac-Joaquin Division II champions, Bella Vista, on Friday as the teams compete for the section’s second spot in the NorCal playoffs.
— Reach Brett Johnson at email@example.com or 530-747-8052.