STOCKTON — The hint of sadness in Alyssa Patterson’s voice was not of disappointment.
Regardless of the outcome, her time with the Sierra girls tennis team has reached its end.
The senior leader is a key figure in the team’s rebuilding project under third-year coach Ed Melfort, and on Tuesday she was part of the biggest match in program history.
The No. 4 Timberwolves lost to second-seeded Vista del Lago 5-4 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final at Oak Park Tennis Center. It was the first appearance in a section championship for both teams.
“I’m not upset, I’m still proud,” said Patterson, one of six seniors on Sierra’s ladder. “Playing all four years, I’ve been so committed. It’s hard knowing it’s coming to an end, but I’ll continue to root the girls on from afar.”
She and No. 1 doubles partner Jasmine Sebastian were not aware that the overall victor had already been decided by the time they wrapped up a well-earned 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 win over Sara Howlett and Taylor Escamilla. Patterson tweaked her hip midway through the match but did not let it and the results of other contests affect her play.
“I just wanted to focus on what was going on on my court,” she said. “I just wanted to keep playing. I knew that I was not going to end my career in tennis losing my last match.”
Sierra (13-4) performed admirably from top to bottom against the Eagles (14-8), who come from the largest school in the bracket. Vista del Lago clinched the title after Brooke Van Buskirk and Camila Wyatt defeated Sierra’s Natlie Rootsaert and Diana Duenas in the No. 2 doubles match, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
It was one of three matches decided in a third set.
“It was a tough match,” Melfort said. “This team was a very good team and we didn’t get blown out anywhere. Every match was close.”
At about the same time Patterson and Sebastian’s match concluded, Nadia Petrovic put the finishing touches on her 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory against Ashley Allen at No. 2 singles.
Sierra No. 3 doubles Mikayla Coburn and Joyce Sebastian edged out Ellie Nguyen and Sophia Ammons, 7-5, 7-6. Freshman Ellie Kim tallied the most lopsided victory, beating Jillian Baker at No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-1. Kim and Petrovic placed fourth in the SJS Division II Doubles Tournament last week.
Valley Oak League singles champion Kaitlyn Rausa had stiff competition against hard-hitting lefty Sofia Smith, who prevailed 6-2, 6-4. Both are only sophomores, and Smith won the Capital Athletic League singles title before reaching the SJS Division II Singles Tournament semifinals.
“There aren’t many people in the area that are lefties I can play with” Rausa said. “The first set was a little rough. I was just trying to get used to it.”
In the other singles matches: Melanie Nguyen lost to Sydnee Tan 5-7, 2-6; Sydney Huynh lost to Alex Elmhurst 4-6, 2-6; and Arianna Herrera lost to Regan Martell 4-6, 2-6.
“They have set a legacy even though we lost,” Melfort said. “The goal is to go further and further and we’re doing that. Just to think, three years ago we went 6-8 in league and were excited when we’d beat East Union. Now look at us. I think next season will be even better. We’ll continue to push at it.”