Pirates cap off perfect season with 5-1 win over Foothill

Pirates cap off perfect season with 5-1 win over Foothill

VENTURA -- The Orange Coast College women's tennis team capped off a perfect season with a perfect ending, defeating Foothill College, 5-1, to capture the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association Women's Tennis Dual Team state championship on Wednesday at Foothill College.

The win ends OCC's season with a perfect 22-0 record and gives Coast its first undefeated season since 2006, when the Pirates went 21-0 en route to another state title.

The title is OCC's 10th women's tennis state championship (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 2005, 2006, 2017, 2019) and the 92nd state crown in the school's 71-year history.

"It's a great feeling to win it all as we were able to achieve all of our preseason team goals and objectives," OCC head coach Chris Ketcham said. "Winning the state title is always the first priority before any individual accomplishments and it feels so good to achieve the highest level of success by working together and supporting each other as a team."

Foothill (18-2), champions of Northern California, grabbed the first point of the match with an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles, but the OCC combo of Miri Inoue and Nicole Knickerbocker quickly answered back minutes later with an 8-2 win at No. 1 doubles.

The pivotal match of the day came at No. 2 doubles, where the team of Shayee Sherif and Camryn Mason saw themselves down 7-5 to the team of Mailnh Troung and Thanish Arul Kumar, with OCC needing to hold serve and break the serve of the Owls duo to avoid defeat. 

With no other match on the courts, Sherif and Mason overcame five deuce points and took care of their own service game to make it 7-6. Coast then broke Foothill's serve to even the match at 7-7. Sherif and Mason held serve to go up 8-7 before ending the comeback by breaking the Owls again to win, 9-7, giving Coast a crucial 2-1 lead after doubles play.

"It gave us an incredible amount of momentum," Ketcham said of the come-from-behind win in No. 2 doubles. "Not just on the scoreboard, but mentally. We knew that we just had to win three singles matches instead of four. It's a big deal to get that edge in the doubles. I think that propels you with a lot more confidence and belief that you can finish off the team in singles."

The Pirates left no doubt who was the better team the rest of the afternoon.

At No. 1, Inoue capped off her brilliant OCC dual team career with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Natsumi Masuda to put OCC up, 3-1 in the matchup.

"It doesn't feel like we won the state," Inoue said after the match. "It's crazy. I'm happy for our team."

Sherif showed why she was one of the top Pirate performers of the season with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Ana Schneider-Jerez put the Pirates just one win away from the title.

Finally, at No. 3, Knickerbocker put the exclamation point on the perfect season with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Arul Kumar to end the competition. 

"Those three girls only lost three matches all season between the three of them," Ketcham said. "It's only fitting that they earned us our last three points to win the state championship."

(Special thanks to Ventura College Sports Information Director Robin Hester)