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Sierra’s Anderson, Vanni cap undefeated season

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Sierra High's Jena Anderson waits for the serve from No. 1 doubles partner Stephanie Vanni during the Timberwolves' Valley Oak League finale at Manteca High Thursday. Anderson and Vanni are 24-0 g...


POSTED October 23, 2009 2:19 a.m.

Jena Anderson tried to suppress her emotions after she and Sierra High No. 1 doubles partner Stephanie Vanni cruised to a routine 6-1, 6-0 victory over Manteca’s Amy Kaur and Ali Tolman Thursday.

Sierra swept Manteca 5-0 in the Valley Oak League finale, and the Timberwolves’ top tandem finished the regular season undefeated at 24-0.

“Once we walked off the court it felt like a lot was taken off my shoulders,” Anderson said. “This made my senior year.”

Anderson had to work hard to get to this point after getting cut by then first-year head coach Arabella Whitlock as a freshman. Whitlock aimed to keep 12 players on the team in 2006, and most of the nine she cut were underclassmen.

Whitlock offered to let them practice with the team once a week to help give them a better chance to make the squad the following year. Eventually, the players stopped coming until Anderson remained. Her dedication earned her a spot on the squad midway through the season.

“She pushed herself. She ran with the team, she showed up early as if she was a part of the team,” Whitlock said. “I thought then that she’s going to end up being one of our stronger players. She has proven that heart is just as important as ability.”

Anderson got the nod last year to start as a singles player, but late in the season she was paired with Vanni — then a sophomore.

They were together for the final three league matches, and they were the last of the area teams standing by the quarterfinal round of the VOL Doubles Tournament.

It was then that they knew they had something special.

“(To go undefeated) was what we wanted since the end of (last) season, so it feels great to be able to accomplish one of our goals,” Vanni said.

How they did it was impressive. Oakdale’s No. 1 team of Mariah King and Kristen Barrett provided Anderson and Vanni their toughest challenge in dual-match play. Last Thursday, Anderson and Vanni knocked them off 6-1, 6-4.

They’ll go into next Thursday’s doubles tournament at Oakdale High as the top seeded team, but it remains to be seen if they are the favorites. Teams are able to piece together tandems consisting of some of their best singles players should they fail to reach the singles tournament, which will run Tuesday, finals.

“They’re both very focused and determined,” Whitlock said. “They’re able to cover the court real well because they are so athletic, and they’re also very good at making adjustments. They make a dynamic team because they’re quality individuals — on and off the court.”

Sierra (11-5) wraps up the season tied for third with Sonora, while Ceres and Oakdale will share the team championship.

Also contributing to the sweep Thursday were: Ann McFerran (def. Jasmine Sidhu 6-2, 6-1), Vannida Nguyen (def. Lexi Ziakas 6-2, 6-1), Kelly Fuentes (def. Hilary Coleman 6-2, 6-3) and No. 2 doubles MaryAnn Baker and Kayla Erion (def. Wendy Lin and Kailey Hunt 6-3, 6-0).

Weston Ranch 4, East Union 1

At East Union, the visiting Cougars (8-8, 9-8 overall) finished out the VOL season with an even record thanks to dominating play from their singles players.

“It’s the best record we’ve ever had at Weston Ranch, so we were pretty excited to get the win,” Weston Ranch coach Jason Furtado said.

Nicole Bowen (6-0, 6-3), Vy Hoang (6-0, 6-2) and Yurie Kosaka (6-3, 6-1) each swept their way to victory. East Union’s No. 1 doubles team of Klasey Kachalkin and Shalane Jackson earned the Lancers their only point with a 6-4, 7-5 win.

The last match of the day was exciting. East Union’s Ciara Jones and Kim Paulson battled back from a 2-6 loss and made a match of it after claiming the second set 10-8 in the tiebreaker. With daylight an issue, they went back to the tiebreaking format for the third set, dropping a 10-12 heartbreaker to Vanessa Canalita and Christina Poklay.

“It was back and forth the whole time,” said Lancer coach Julia Bylow, whose team finished 5-11. “It was really fun for both teams and a great way to end the season.”

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