RIPON – For Tami Kamper and the Ripon Christian tennis team, the matches will get infinitely harder beginning with the Sac-Joaquin Section Team Tournament.
The Southern League champions will host a second-round match today at the community courts in Ripon. By virtue of their conference title, the Knights received a first-round bye on Monday.
The stakes, like the mercury on the thermometer, are rising.
For a team that hasn’t experienced many losses as individuals – and none as a team – a setback at the section level is cut-throat.
“We’ll be facing much stronger teams and players,” Kamper said. “In singles, you’re talking about players that are career tennis players.
“My girls that are going have played for three years. They’ll be going up against girls who have played since they could carry a racket. It’ll probably be the same for the guys.”
Even so, Ripon Christian has enjoyed a season full of highlights, including a show of force at Friday’s Southern League Tournament at the Del Rio Country Club.
Darren Boersma and Kristi VanDiver punctuated perfect seasons with boys and girls singles championships.
They annexed those titles with final-round victories over teammates Kyle VanVuren and Stephanie Van dePol.
Ripon Christian also advanced both of its girls’ doubles teams to the final. Because of a scheduling conflict – Friday’s tennis tournament butted up with the school’s junior-senior banquet – Kamper was allowed to stage the girls’ doubles final on Monday.
Katie Donoho and Lauren Herbert topped Dakota Eastin and Makenna Koslosky in straight sets, 6-2 and 6-3, to win the SL girls’ doubles crown.
All six will advance to Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Individual Tournament at Oak Park in Stockton.
“We knew we’d be strong. Last year we won league and had only one loss. This year was just a little bit sweeter,” Kamper said.
However, she was taken aback by the number of individuals headed to sections.
She wasn’t sure VanVuren or Van dePol would get to their respective finals.
VanVuren suffered a fractured wrist that kept him on the sidelines for half the season. He returned to action the day before the Southern League Tournament, showing little rust or fatigue.
Van dePol has lost just twice all season, but as Ripon Christian’s No. 2 singles players, Kamper realized she’d have to beat at least one No. 1 to clinch a finals berth.
She did just that.
Van dePol rallied for a thrilling three-set victory over Turlock Christian’s ace Savannah Swanson in the semifinals.
“Our No. 1 boy and girl were undefeated during the season, so that was no surprise,” Kamper said of Boersma and VanDiver, respectively. “With Kyle being out half the season I didn’t know what he’d do. Stephanie lost two matches all season, but she would have to play some No. 1s. That was a bit of a surprise. It was nice that she came through on that.”