By LUKE CURTIS
Girls’ Tennis ended their season in second place in the CIF Southern Section Open Division, coming short 8-10 against Peninsula.
“The final round was the toughest match of this season. Peninsula and Uni were neck and neck for the entire time until the very end when we lost,” senior captain Yui Hashiyada said. “But in the very end, I truly believe we did the best we could and they were the better team this time. Peninsula has an amazing team and I was glad I got to be part of such a competitive game.”
Despite a similar ending to last year’s finish, this year’s team achieved a perfect 20-0-0 record prior to the finals. This contributed to the team’s development of a deep bond throughout their journey to CIF.
“I’ve never seen the team so selfless and bonded together until the finals. Everyone was equally on edge, supporting each other, getting excited together, and lost together. After a season of being undefeated, I think the loss brought us even closer together and I’m glad I got to witness that. The setbacks are what make us all such great friends and it shows on the court as well,” Hashiyada said.
Reflecting upon the game, the girls were grateful that they were able to go compete for a title for the second time in a row. Even though they didn’t have the experience of being the first UNI team to win CIF, they have a continuous desire to push their limits in the coming season.
“Even though it wasn’t the result we hoped for, it definitely was a privilege to be going back and playing in the finals. Each time we go and end up not getting the results we want, it’s definitely heartbreaking, but it acts as a motivator for next year,” junior Emily Markus said.
Through all the high pressure situations and needed dedication to succeed on the court and in the classroom, the players have been able to balance themselves, learning intently while also challenging themselves athletically.
“We learned responsibility. As student athletes, we need to find a balance between school work, and also maintaining the level of play we desire to bring. Tennis is able to help us navigate high pressure situations and mentally prepare for challenging obstacles like tests and quizzes,” Markus said.
For some members of this team, this Finals match was the end of their career for UHS tennis. However, it has held special significance in their high school journey and life.
“It’s honestly sad to say that this is my last season. I’ve learned so much as an athlete, student, leader, and person. It definitely wasn’t easy being on the team for four years but I don’t have a single regret. The team chemistry has made me realize why I wanted to help this team by being a captain in the first place. It was such an honor to be leading such a talented and passionate group of girls. Tennis helped me be a stronger person, learn the essence of team unity and regain my passion for the sport, which I hope can continue throughout college,” Hashiyada said.
Even though the girls may have come up short in the CIF Final, they qualified for upcoming CIF regionals.
“Making it to CIF finals was an amazing experience, and seeing everyone come together and support each other was truly special,” junior Natalia Tobon said. “Unfortunately, we lost but hopefully we can redeem ourselves at regionals this week.”
Regionals will take place at Claremont Club on November 22 and 23.