Santa Barbara’s youth shines in opening win over Palos Verdes

With the match winding down, Steve Geremia, Santa Barbara’s longtime girls tennis coach, looked out on the courts and saw his doubles teams made up of freshmen and sophomores battling and pulling out wins against CIF Division 1 power Palos Verdes.

The young combinations turned in a solid performance in Wednesday’s season opener, winning seven of the nine sets to lead the Dons to a 12-6 victory on their home courts.

Coach Steve Geremia said it was the first time he could remember a victory againist the Sea Kings.

“Palos Verdes is a great program … solid, D-1; they’ve been killing people for years,” he said. “They’re young, they kind of mirror us. They have a lot of young people playing for them as we do. Our young people, particularly in the doubles, played with a little more confidence, a little better use of spacing, and sharper volleys. We got a lot more cross-courts than they did.”

The doubles teams of Karina Thornton-Marianna Alevra and Megan Grant-Madison Hale showed good chemistry in going 3-0 in sets on the warm afternoon. Kaitlyn Rodnick-Alexis Guilden went 1-1 — their loss coming on a tiebreaker.

Of the 12 players Geremia used on Wednesday, two were seniors, one was a junior and the rest freshmen and sophomores.

“I’m mixing up players so I could put in my ‘senior veterans,’ which turned out to be sophomores … those are my veterans.” he said.

Summer Garrison got Santa Barbara going in singles with three wins at No. 3 singles. Her 6-4 decision over PV’s Daron Wong in the first round enabled the Dons to pull even at  3-3.

Garrison, a senior, who is returning to Santa Barbara after two years at a tennis academy, capped her day by defeating PV’s No. 1 player Riley Morgan, 7-5.

Senior captain Taryn Mjelde shook off her first-set nerves against Morgan and played better in her second set, beating Wong 6-3.

“I was definitely nervous the first match,” Mjelde said. “I think I need to have a talk with my coaches and my dad afterwards. I felt a lot of pressure on myself in the first match. I pullled myself together in the second match (and) won that, and then the third match I had my chances and should of taken them, but the girl was really good; Palos Verdes is an amazing team.”

Geremia saw the nervousness in his senior captain

“She feels a heavier responsibility,” he said.

By the time Mjelde started her third set, Santa Barbara had matters well in hand, as it built an 8-4 lead after the second round.

The win over a CIF-SS Division 1 power was a good confidence boost for the Division 2 Dons as they head to Fresno to play in the two-day 120-team California Championships.

Santa Barbara 12, Palos Verdes 6.

Singles—SB: Tayrn Mjelde 1-2, Lisa Santry 0-1, Summer Garrison 3-0, Aurora Garrison 1-1. PV: Riley Morgan 2-1, Nicole Scotten 2-1, Deron Wong 0-3.

Doubles—Megan Grant-Madison Hale 3-0, Karina Thornton-Marianna Alevra 3-0, Kaitlyn Rodnick-Alexis Guilden 1-1, Hailey deBoer-Maddie Cuttler. PV: Andrea Gerbes-Hannah Rees 1-2, Lauren Lee-Ali Mar 0-3, Melisa Kocarla-Kelley Hawke 1-2