Santa Barbara outlasts Chargers, 10-8

Rachel Decker-Sadowski overcame leg cramps to beat Dos Pueblos’ Erica Cano in an opening-set tiebreaker, and the Santa Barbara girls tennis team out-dueled its worthy crosstown rival 10-8 on Tuesday afternoon on the Santa Barbara courts.

After it was finally over, with the last matches wrapping up in near darkness, the No. 1 Dons (12-1, 8-0) had dispatched the No. 4 Chargers (17-3, 6-2) and secured its 10th-straight outright Channel League title.

“Nobody wants to be the one to give it back,” said Steve Geremia, who credited the Dons’ challenging schedule with performing well in these types of pressure-filled matches. “I sure don’t want it to be me and these girls that are playing don’t want it to be them either.”

The nail-biter between Decker-Sadowski and Cano was just one of many close ones that could be called the difference-maker. Without question, however, is that the Santa Barbara doubles side can be thanked for the win.

The combinations of Hanna Grokenberger-Kinzie McKeown and Haley Hranicky-Galitzer-Ari Beckerman both won three sets. April Ludwick and Zoe Miller tucked away two more for a total of eight sets from doubles.

They sure needed it.

DP’s singles trio of Erica Cano, Lauren Stratman and Hayley Edwards came after the Dons, with Stratman defeating Decker-Sadowski for the second time this season, assuring the freshman of the top seed in next week’s Channel League championships.

“That puts me at No. 1,” said Stratman of the bittersweet victory over her ailing opponent, then put in a plug for an all Dos Pueblos final. “Hopefully me and Erica won’t be in the same half (of the bracket) so then maybe we can meet in finals. That would be cool.”

But Stratman’s also hedging her bets, knowing not to count last year’s Channel League champion out. “We’ll see. If we get to the finals we’ll see if I can beat her on a good day,”  she said.

“Muscle cramps are painful but they’re in and out,” explained an optimistic but sore Decker-Sadowski. “By next week I should be completely better.”

Stratman swept her sets, and Cano and Edwards both won two, but after the Dons grabbed an 8-4 lead after two rounds, the outcome was apparent.

Santa Barbara, which has been at least co-champion of the league for 27-straight seasons, last shared the title in 1998. That year, Kelly Schmandt led San Marcos to do something no Channel League team has done since: beat the Dons.


DP Singles 1) Erica Cano 2-1. 2) Lauren Stratman 3-0. 3) Hayley Edwards 2-1. Doubles: 1) Amy Sagraves-Amy Logan 1-2. 2) Oriane Matthys-Nicoletta Bradley 0-3. 3) Nicole Eskenazi-Anna Slyutova 0-3.

SB Singles: 1) Rachel Decker-Sadowski 1-2. 2) Danielle Broida 0-3. 3) Aurora Garrison 1-2.
Doubles: 1) Hanna Grokenberger-Kinzie McKeown 3-0. 2) April Ludwick-Zoe Miller 2-1. 3) Haley Hranicky-Galitzer-Ari Beckerman 3-0