SPORTS Panthers complete sweep of Marauders
With Porterville ahead 4-2 after singles, it all came down to the doubles matches and the Panthers needing at least one win to beat rival Monache on the road in the final East Yosemite League match of the season Wednesday.
The Marauders’ No. 2 duo of Maddie Giannetto and Tanya Perez finished first with a strong 8-1 performance to keep Monache in the match but soon after Porterville’s Vanessa Madrigal and Chloe Weaver won the No. 1 match 8-2 for a Panther victory. Zeila Rivera and Hannah Walker traded games with Michelle Brown and Evelyn Caballero before winning the last three games and the No. 3 match 8-5 in the final Porterville win.
After a 7-2 win earlier this season, it was the second time the Panthers (13-9, 8-2 EYL) defeated the two-time defending EYL champion Marauders (4-6 EYL).
Porterville has already earned a spot in the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs prior to the game but sealed up at least second place in EYL with the win over Monache. Tulare Western (8-1 EYL) was first in league but the results of their match against Tulare Union were unknown as of press time and a loss against the Mustangs would make Porterville and Tulare Western CO-EYL champions.
“Western was strong, they beat us easily both times,” PHS head coach Kurt Neilsen said. “It takes a power from above to get co-championships, so second place is probably where we’re going to be. We could’ve been lower. Everybody was so even starting. Delano was solid, Mission Oak [was good]. Union, I thought Union was going to win it then the lower part of their ladder didn’t hold up. And so I guess second place is better than I thought we’d get.”
Neilsen added, “We’ll go to playoffs. Last year we were a middle seed...i’m expecting the same. We went to West Bakersfield last year, lost the first match. I’m pretty certain we won’t have a home match because we’ll be a lower seed. Where we go, we won’t know until next week.”
Against Monache in singles, Porterville’s No. 3 Sierra Mitchel won 6-0, 6-2; No. 4 Erica Palad won 6-2, 6-0; No. 5 Jewelia Maniss won 7-6, 6-2; and No. 6 Lizbeth Martinez won 6-2, 7-5.
Monache was without their usual No. 4 Jenna Keller and No. 6 Reynah Leal but picked up wins in singles from No. 1 Giannetto (7-5, 6-1) and No. 2 Sotelo (6-4, 6-3).
“I think they still left something behind,” MHS head coach Gary Perez said. “I think today was a little more indicative of how they can play. And when you look at having a couple of our regular singles players gone, for us to play as well as we did, I think it was pretty indicative that the team could’ve done harder. I think they sold themselves short. Up next for both teams is
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the EYL championships at Tulare Union High School on Friday and Saturday. Neilsen assumes Madrigal will be the No. 3 singles seed behind Tulare Western’s No. 1 and Giannetto but is undecided about what the Panthers will do for doubles just yet. Porterville has won the EYL doubles title for the last five years, according to Neilsen.
For Monache, Gary Perez hopes Giannetto repeats as the EYL singles champion and their doubles team also does well.
“First of all in singles, our goal is to have Maddie win the EYL,” Gary Perez said. “Plain and simple. In the doubles, I really think Abigail and Jenessa, can be competitors there. So we’ll work on a couple of things and see if we can have them ready starting Friday. We look to be, try to be as competitive as we possibly can.”
Porterville High School’s Vanessa Madrigal serves a ball Wednesday during the No. 1 doubles match at Monache High School.