The final score read 7-2, Davis High had beaten visiting Rocklin.
But halfway through Monday’s Sac-Joaquin Section girls quarterfinal match, the tension was palpable.
With early returns in, the Blue Devils led their guests, 3-2. But there was a Battle Royale brewing …
DHS sophomore Cat Paw U was going net-to-baseline with Thunder standout Jessica Miller. Across the Community Park Tennis Complex (hidden from Paw U) were Devil Jenna Mould and Rocklin No. 6 Sangeetha Ramamurthy — locked in another close match.
Meanwhile, in the late autumn shadows — on a northwest court — four-year DHS veteran Ceci Cajandig was gaining steam in her marathon duel with Molly Garcia-Kaer.
At first, it looked like the Blue Devils would breeze as Inés Guinard knocked off Rocklin No. 1 Shelby Kuboth, 6-0, 6-0, in a 38-minute display of powerful overhands and clever ground strokes.
When Angela Donahue checked in with a quick 6-2, 7-5 decision over Thunder counterpart Taylor McDougall, all eyes turned to doubles play.
DHS’ Kelly Chuck and Bailey Gary were taken out by Christina Dyok and Rachel Kim in a toughie, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
Devil duo Eliana Jolkovsky and Megan Ewens were in control of another nail-biter — against Valerie Tood and Amber Calzaga — but the methodical victory, 7-5, 6-4, did nothing to soothe the nerves of the remaining singles players.
Then word came that Kailynn Yang (6-1, 6-1 over Anna Bothe) had won — giving the locals a 4-2 advantage, but Jasmin Mould and Cat Archer were tied at the end of a not-so-hot third set in their doubles match. Losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, Mould and Archer turned their attention to rooting on their teammates. It helped, but the ensuing drama also kept Davis coach Sally Hosley busy.
Providing advice and calming influence, Hosley moved back and forth between Paw U and Jenna Mould.
It appeared for a while that Cajandig was in trouble, tied in sets after losing the second, 6-3. But Cajandig began to move her opponent all over the court: coming to the net for two terrific drop-set points, then sending Garcia-Kaer back to the fence to track down lobs.
Hosley was mentoring Jenna Mould during a side change when the good news came …
A spent, tearful Paw U had bested Miller, 7-5, 6-4, and DHS would be heading to Oak Ridge for a semifinal Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
Just to make it official, Cajandig and Mould elevated the final score: Cajandig winning 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 and Mould prevailing 6-1, 7-5.
So, do the Blue Devils have the horses to ride to the school’s seventh championship?
“I think we do. First of all, our ladder has improved over time,” senior Guinard said. “We’ve been working on playing for everyone, not just our own match. And we got a good draw.”
About that draw…
St. Francis, winners of seven straight section crowns, finished second in the Delta River League to Oak Ridge. The Troubadours and powerhouses St. Mary’s and Granite Bay all wound up in a different bracket of the playoffs, while Davis and the Trojans decide Tuesday who is in the finals against one of those other three schools.
Back to that Devil improvement …
DHS beat Rocklin, 5-4, last month in the Best of Sacramento Invitational. Why the two-match uptick?
Cajandig feels the gelling of the Blue Devil doubles teams has been a big reason for Davis’ success — even though Rocklin got two of the doubles points on Monday:
“I think the doubles have improved a lot and (some of us) didn’t play much during the summer … and are playing (our) best now.”
Hosley isn’t ready to chat about finals. Oak Ridge (which beat Armijo on Monday) is at hand.
“You know, this wasn’t a 7-2 match,” said the veteran tennis coach. “This was tough. This was more like 5-4. We’ll see.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.