OJAI -- An incredible season of women's tennis came to a historical end this past weekend as the Orange Coast College Pirates wrapped up a magical season with individual state singles AND doubles champions at the California Community College Athletic Association Tennis State Championships at Ojai's Libbey Park.
After winning the State Dual Team Championships earlier in the week, the Pirates went after the individual titles and after six grueling rounds of tennis over three days, it was a Pirate takeover in the final rounds of both singles and doubles.
In the singles finals, OCC sophomore and No. 2 seed Miri Inoue took on Pirate teammate and No. 4 seed Shayee Sherif. After losing last year in a tough state quarterfinal matchup, Inoue outlasted her friend and captured the state title with a 6-3, 6-4 win.
When asked if it was weird playing her Pirate teammate for the state title, Inoue said, "I was honestly ready and excited to play, not only because Shayee is a great player, but also because I played (fellow teammate Nicole Knickerbocker) in the previous round, so it made me prepared for it. I was just thinking of playing my best."
Knickerbocker, advanced to the state semifinals before falling to Inoue, giving Coast three of the top four players in the state.
"There really wasn't too much for me to do in that finals except just watch and not cheer," OCC head coach Chris Ketcham said with a laugh. "I'm just so proud of this team and the accomplishments they were able to achieve this year. It was a bit of a surreal experience to watch two of your players play for the state championship. I didn't want either of them to lose."
For Sherif, her run to the state finals had to go through some of the top competitors in the state. In the quarterfinals, she outlasted Chabot's Stephane Huang, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a match that took well over two hours to complete. After about a 30-minute rest, Sherif was back on the court to take on the top seed in the state, Fullerton College's Yu Seung Suh. It was no contest as Sherif rolled past Suh, 6-3, 6-0, to reach the state finals against Inoue.
"I thought Shayee played an amazing tournament, along with an incredible season overall," Ketcham said of Sherif. "The finals match was close between Miri and Shayee, but I think those hard-fought matches Shayee needed to win may have taken some of her energy, where Miri had a bit of an easier road to the finals."
Inoue cruised to 6-3, 6-0 wins in both the Round of 16 and quarterfinals before taking on her doubles partner, Knickerbocker, in the semifinals. She needed a first-set tiebreaker to prevail, 7-6 (1), before hanging on for a 6-3 win to advance to the finals.
In doubles play, Inoue and Knickerbocker wrapped up an incredible season by winning the state doubles title with an incredible 7-6 (7), 3-6, 10-7 win over El Camino's Madi Giese and Lina Ito.
"It was a great way to end my OCC career with the doubles win," Inoue said. "Coach Ketcham was actually telling me during the match to remember all of the hard work and memories at OCC and to put everything into this last match as a Pirate. This match being my last match was definitely in my mind and it was a key to winning the doubles finals."
Sherif and teammate Camryn Mason nearly made it another All-OCC finals, but came up just short to Giece and Ito, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals.
In all, Inoue wraps up one of the greatest two-year runs in OCC women's tennis history. After coming to OCC from Sydney, Australia, Inoue was named OCC's Female Athlete of the Year as a freshman after going 43-5 in singles and doubles. This year, she bettered those records by going 29-2 in singles and 29-1 in doubles for a combined record of 58-3. Her two-year grand total in singles and doubles: 101 wins, 8 losses.
Inoue is the first Pirate since Michelle Esquivel in 2005 to win the singles state title, the doubles state title and the dual team state title in the same season.