The bleachers were quiet as Sydney De Polo ‘17 drew her racket back for a final shot, slamming the ball over the net towards her opponent—the number one singles player of Chaminade College Preparatory School.
The girl missed.
There was a beat of stunned silence as Sydney shook hands with her opponent, and then loud cheers erupted from the bleachers as the girls of Thacher’s varsity tennis team ran onto the court, hugging each other in disbelief.
They’d just won the CIF Southern Tennis Championships for their division.
For the varsity girls’ tennis team, this season was an unexpected one. After losing six seniors and moving up from Division 5 to Division 4, the team started the season acknowledging that it would be difficult to continue their previous winning streak.
However, this did not prevent them from working hard and sweeping through their league games with an impressive record of 7-2, losing only two game to Cate and securing a spot in the playoffs.
In the post season run, the girls did especially well. Following a 11-7 win against North Torrance High School, the team played a close match against Arroyo High School.
Thacher was at an 8-9 disadvantage nearing the end of the third round with only their number three doubles team Reina Nadeau ‘18 and Piper Stacy ‘19 still on the courts. After a hard fought match, Reina and Piper managed to win 6-4 against Arroyo’s number two team, securing a vital victory for Thacher.
The team then went on to win 14-4 against Alta Loma High School in the quarterfinals, and breezed through the semifinals at home, winning an impressive 11 games against Flintridge Prep and landing them a spot— for the third consecutive year— in the CIF division championships.
After a long drive to the Claremont Club and lunch and warm up at a nearby park, the team was determined to win the finals.
In the first round, all of the doubles won their matches and with the addition of Libby Kern ‘17’s win against Chaminade’s number three singles player, the team started off with a solid 4-2 lead. The second round had the girls fighting hard to eventually taking all the doubles matches and all but one of the singles matches.
After two exhausting rounds of tough tennis and victory in sight, the team was more determined than ever. In the third round, the singles were on a roll with Libby Kern ‘17 continuing her winning streak, beating Chaminade’s number two singles 6-1 and Sydney De Polo ‘17 scoring the final victory over Chaminade’s number one singles player. The doubles teams also finished strong, with Jasmin Arculli ‘17 and Cara Dienst ‘17 winning their final match 6-2 and Bea Pierrepont ‘18 and Olivia de Polo ‘18 ending their season with an impressive 6-1 against Chaminade’s number two doubles team.
The tennis season ended officially with a team dinner at Papa Lennon’s in celebration of the great accomplishment of the team.
“I’m very proud of this group of girls”, Coach Fagan began as he helped clear away plates, “working with them has just been such a great pleasure.” He spoke of the great sense of family on the team, the amazing work ethic of the girls, and the overwhelming enthusiasm that Thacher was able to bring to every game.
“We always cheer on our team”, he said, “and the enthusiasm is really, really important.”
Amongst the most enthusiastic and engaged are the four senior captains. Libby Kern ‘17, Sydney de Polo ‘17, Cara Dienst ‘17 and Jasmin Arculli ‘17 have been the backbones of Thacher’s girls tennis team since they were underclassmen, and have been fundamental parts of some of the best tennis seasons Thacher has ever seen.
During their tennis careers at Thacher, they’ve gone to the CIF Championships three years in a row and brought home first place two years in a row, an unprecedented feat.
When asked to talk a little bit about the team, Libby Kern said, “I am so proud of this team for their dedication and love of the sport because every single person contributed to our success.”
As the seniors say goodbye to Thacher tennis, we wish them luck with their games wherever they go, and look forward to many more amazing seasons for the girl’s tennis team in the future.