|High Desert Tennis Association|
D'backs advance in CIF playoffs
Trio of seniors leads Serrano to second round
PHELAN — Leading 5-0 in a set she was about to win, during a match that already had been won, Lauren Tarver still was scolding herself for every little mistake. Whether she’s winning, losing or practicing, the Serrano senior never lets up on herself.
Maybe that has something to do with how Tarver and the tennis team have made it this far. After waltzing through the Mojave River League season, Serrano extended its dominance to the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division III playoffs with a 15-3 victory at home against Centennial/Corona on Thursday.
“I just know how fast it can go downhill if I lose my game and focus,” Tarver said. “I work really hard at practices. It just gets stressful sometimes when I’m not performing how I practice. Even one shot — I’m really hard on myself.”
The way Tarver was shaking her head in disgust and throwing her hands up in exasperation, it would be impossible to guess the score. Using deep groundstrokes to set up an aggressive attack at the net, the MRL Player of the Year swept her three sets 6-3, 6-0, 6-0.
Tarver’s fellow seniors on the team, Mindy DeYoung and Vanessa Garcia, form Serrano’s No. 1 doubles squad. They also cruised against Centennial, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
DeYoung and Garcia, who have played together three years, overwhelmed the Huskies at the net. After one sharp volley by Garcia, her partner turned to spectators and mouthed, “Wow.” On their final set point, DeYoung ran down a shot in the corner to wrap up a relatively easy day.
“We try to put them away at the net, so we don’t have to keep up a rally,” DeYoung said. “Because then we lose energy.”
Serrano carries only one substitute on its roster during the CIF playoffs. The Diamondbacks will hit the road Saturday to face a formidable opponent in the winner of South Pasadena and Malibu. The matchup figures to be a much steeper challenge than Centennial (7-12), which was the third seed in the Mountain View League.
“Based on their record and our record, we were big underdogs,” Centennial coach Sunny Kaura said. “If the girls competed well and we lost, I could live with that because I know Serrano has a really strong team this year.”
Serrano’s success has not been limited to this year. The Diamondbacks (18-1) have lost a total of two league matches in the last three seasons. But they have not been able to get past the second round of the playoffs, and now the trio of seniors — Tarver, DeYoung and Garcia — have one more chance.