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VOL qualifiers eliminated in 1st round of SJS tourney
TEN--SJS D2 Individuals file pic
Fuko Inoue of East Union is one of five local athletes to compete in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Individual Tournament on Thursday. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

ROSEVILLE — The best of the Valley Oak League competed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Individual Tournament at the Johnson Ranch Racquet Club on Thursday, but they didn’t stay long.

All were one-and-done, but for two Sierra freshmen the experience gained is valuable, said coach Ed Melfort.

VOL runner-up Kaitlyn Rausa dropped a competitive 4-6, 6-2, 4-6 match to Benicia’s Lily Hayward. She fared better than Tay Talamantes of Oakdale, who defeated Rausa three times — twice in dual matches and in the singles tournament final — in VOL action. Seeded third, Talamaentes was upset by Whitney’s Nikala Tuffanelli, 1-6, 1-6.

“She played a good match,” Melfort said. “She’s been playing consistent all year and she has a bright future.”

Sierra qualified a doubles team made up of senior Claire Banks and freshman Nadia Petrovic. They drew top-seeded Kaira Bernaldez and Ania Lobsinger and lost, 1-6, 3-6. East Union’s Fuko Inoue and Natalie Karim also competed and lost to Katie McDaniel and Tatiana Orellana of Vanden, 1-6, 4-6. The sixth-seeded team in the VOL Doubles Tournament, Inoue and Karim reached the final round and won the championship by forfeit.

“These are girls from bigger schools we’re playing,” Melfort said. “But the experience is real big for them.”

While Melfort looks forward to seeing Rausa and Petrovic develop over the next three years, he’ll miss the leadership provided by Banks. Banks is a 2015 VOL singles finalist and only lost two matches in duals the past two years.

“Claire had a great career,” Melfort said. “I coached her at Sierra for two years but I’ve known her longer through the Manteca Parks and Recreation program. She’s a good competitor and her peers respect her. She’s one of the nicest kids out there.”