LOS BANOS — From Ellie Kim’s crazy comeback win to the clinching No. 1 doubles match at a different venue, Sierra definitely earned its spot in its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section final.
The Timberwolves knocked off No. 1-seeded Los Banos 6-3 in this wild Division IV semifinal that began at the Tigers’ home courts and ended across town under the lights of Pacheco High. They play No. 2 Vista del Lago (13-8) for the championship on Thursday at a site that will be announced this morning.
“The girls are pretty excited about the opportunity,” Sierra coach Ed Melfort. “This is new territory for the program. This whole season we’ve been using that phrase ‘why not?’ Who would have thought this year we’d have a chance to win sections?”
Melfort credited Kim, a freshman coming off a fourth-place finish in the SJS Division II Doubles Tournament, for giving his Timberwolves (15-3) a much-needed boost. After dropping the first set to Haley Ballez in the No. 3 singles match, she climbed back from a 1-5 deficit in the second to pull out a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.
“Doing what she did inspired the whole group,” Melfort said. “If there’s a game ball I would have to give it to her.”
The Timberwolves led 4-2 overall after the singles matches concluded. Kaitlyn Rausa held off Shirley Liu in the No. 1 showdown, Nadia Petrovic swept Kierstyn Cotta 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 and No. 6 Sydney Hynuh prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (3) against Chloe Emerson.
Sierra’s No. 1 doubles team of Alyssa Patterson and Jasmine Sebastian delivered the knockout blow. Like Kim, they trailed 1-5 in the first set of their 7-6, 7-6 victory over Zoe Seabock and Bridget Lopez. Patterson and Sebastian led 6-5 before the match was moved to Pacheco.
Mikayla Coubourn and Joyce Sebastian defeated Sarah White and Corie Falaschi 3-6, 7-5, 10-2 at No. 2 doubles.
“(Los Banos) needed to sweep at doubles to win it, and there was a good chance that it would happen for them,” Melfort said. “They did not give that to us easily.”