CIF title is in Dons’ hands

The Dons team after winning CIF's Southern Section Division II title on Monday. (Presidio Sports Photos)

CLAREMONT – There’s no longer any question as to who the best girls tennis team in Division II of CIF’s Southern Section is, as the Santa Barbara High Dons annihilated Newport Harbor 16-2 in Monday’s championship match at the Claremont Tennis Club.

The Dons clinched the victory after winning the first two rounds 11-1. The triumph capped a dominating run through the postseason for Santa Barbara, which won five matches by the combined score of 75-14.

It was only the second loss of the season for Newport Harbor, which upset San Marino in the semifinals to make the title match.



The Dons swept all nine doubles sets. In singles, Aurora Garrison and Summer Garrison claimed six sets without a loss while freshmen Mattea Kilstofte battled some leg cramps but won 1-of-2 sets played.

It was Santa Barbara’s first CIF championship in girls tennis since 2003 and their first trip to the title match since 2006. But the Dons had been in every semifinal since.

This year they did it with a youth movement. Seven of their nine starters are freshmen or sophomores.

“We’ve lost in the semis for a long time so we were just really happy even to make it to the finals, but to win was a big deal,” said freshman Madison Hale.

Summer Garrison

Dons freshman Summer Garrison won three sets on centre court at the Claremont Tennis Club.

Senior Aurora Garrison won a CIF title after reaching the semis in three straight seasons.


Hale and sophomore doubles partner Megan Grant won the Channel League doubles title and went through the postseason without losing a set. On Monday the pair won 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.

“The first set we let our nerves get to us a little bit,” Grant said. “We had a slow start in like both matches I think but we picked it up and definitely pulled through.”

Senior Taryn Mjelde and freshman Marianna Alevra had an even better day in doubles, recording scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Sophomores Karina Thornton and Lisa Santry teamed to win two sets 6-1, 6-1 and kept the Dons’ perfect doubles record intact by edging Newport Harbor’s Megan Bathen and Mindy Wheeler 7-4 in a tiebreaker.

Natalie Cernius and Annie Radeva won Newport Harbor’s two sets in singles.

After the match, Dons coaches Steve Geremia and Greg Tebbe accepted the CIF plaque while each player received a commemorative patch and a red “CIF Champions” hat that clashed with Santa Barbara’s olive green.

“If you’re going to win a championship, we have to stand out I guess,” Mjelde said.

Mjelde was one of three seniors on the team – along with Aurora Garrison and Emily Baum – who reached a goal that had been elusive during their prep careers.

“It’s amazing. I would have never thought being senior captain this would happen. I know our team has worked so hard,” Mjelde said. “The fact that there’s only two seniors playing and all the rest are freshmen and sophomores – it’s amazing what thay can accomplish and what we can do as a team.”

For a majority of the Dons’ team, they will be able to come back and defend their title next year.

“It’s been such a great experience. I mean, I’m a freshman – I have three more years to go,” Alevra said standing next to Mjelde. “It’s going to be great, but, I mean, the team’s great, I love the players. It’s been such a wonderful experience.”

Presidio Sports will be publishing a photo gallery on Tuesday and video coverage on Wednesday.



SB Singles – Summer Garrison 3-0, Mattea Kilstofte 1-1, Aurora Garrison 3-0, Lexy Guilden 0-1. NH Singles – Annie Radeva 1-2, Natalie Cernius 1-2, Kate Knight 0-3.

SB Doubles – Madison Hale/Megan Grant 3-0, Karina Thornton/Lisa Santry 3-0, Taryn Mjelde/Marianna Alevra 3-0. NH Doubles – Robin Young/Christina Young 0-3, Meagna Bathen/Mindy Wheeler 0-3, Holly Hounanian/Kaitlyn Cosenza 0-2, Hounanian/Gele Beck 0-1.