STOCKTON — The Kimball girls tennis team played the role of darkhorse in the 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV girls tennis team playoffs.
The Jaguars, seeded fifth in the postseason, were a longshot to advance past the first round, but swept fourth-seeded Pioneer 9-0 then shocked top seed Mountain House 6-3 in Tuesday’s semifinals, earning a berth in the final against Valley Oak League rival and second seed Central Catholic.
Kimball ended its season with a 7-2 loss to the Raiders on Thursday at the Oak Park Tennis Center. Though disappointed, the Jaguars felt they were fortunate to even be in the equation.
“We had made the playoffs once before but never won a match before this season, so that’s pretty good,” first-year Jaguars coach Tim Wall said. “I’m proud of our girls and for a lot of them they didn’t how to react because they’d never been to the playoffs before. The school is only 10 years old so there’s a lot of room to grow.”
Kimball finished with a 10-8 record, including a 7-5 third place showing in the VOL.
The Raiders (18-3, 12-2, second in the VOL) advanced to the championship by blanking No. 7 Los Banos 9-0, then dismantling top seed Placer 8-1 in the semifinal.
Junior Fayth Hinojosa gave Kimball its only win in singles, beating Kathleen Juarez 6-7 (5), 6-1, 10-8 in a third-set supertiebreaker.
"We were both consistent, and (Juarez’s) forehand was good so I was trying to keep the ball away from that,” said Hinojosa, who was able to run down plenty of short balls.
Hinojosa finished her season at 14-1.
The No. 3 doubles team of freshmen Kate Blumenfeld and Mariya Hinojosa posted Kimball's other win, beating Lilly Borba and Josephine Henderson 6-4, 6-2.
“I really wanted to win and show Central Catholic that we could play too,” Blumenfeld said.
Mariya Hinojosa said, “Kate is the one who has the really nice shots, and I’m the one who keeps the point going. “
Maxine Jaque, Kimball’s No. 1 singles player and senior team captain, said she enjoyed the Jaguars’ run to the section final.
“It was a big surprise, because when we started at the season, it was rough. We played Tracy, Lincoln in the preseason and they both swept us...I’ve been on the team since freshman year and we didn’t have winning records so to do this as a senior is a big deal to me.”
Contact reporter Tony Acosta at (209) 546-8292 or email@example.com.