Garrison, Grant-Hale beat SB teammates for Channel League titles



The Channel League girls tennis finals turned into a showcase for Santa Barbara High’s dominance in the sport on Thursday at the Knowlwood Tennis Club. The finalists in both singles and doubles were all Dons.

The singles final was a matchup of sophomores. Summer Garrison rallied from a set down and defeated Mattea Kilstofte, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2. Garrison is the Dons’ first league champion since Rachel Decker Sadowski in 2007.

Lauren Stratman of Dos Pueblos won four straight titles before moving on to Columbia in the Ivy League.

In doubles, top-seeded and defending champions Megan Grant and Madison Hale fought back from double match point and pulled out a three-set victory over No. 3 Olivera Tadijin and Lexy Gulden, 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-1. Grant-Hale rallied from a 40-15 deficit in the second set and rode that momentum for the rest of the match.

All four finalists advance to the CIF Individual Regional Tournament on Nov. 19 in Carpinteria.

While it might have looked like a Santa Barbara practice to the casual observer, the day was a testament to the strength and depth of the Dons team.

“There’s a little different level of determination and effort they’re putting in; they’re not working on their game,” coach Steve Geremia said of the six players on the Knowlwood courts. “They’re trying to put the finished product out there. When we’re in practice, we’re always trying to improve something here and something there, but today was the final exam — go out and play as well as you can.”

Kilstofte started strong in the singles final with Garrison, ripping forehands for winners to build a 3-1 lead. Garrison fought back, broke Kilsofte and won the next game with good serving to knot the set at 3-3.

Kilstofte stepped up won a long seventh game and took a 5-3 lead after Garrison made back-to-back unforced errors. She closed out the set with some big serves.

“The first set I played really well and it went down a little bit (after that), and Summer played really well,” said Kilstofte, who was playing in her second straight league final.

Garrison came out aggressive in the second set and never let up.

“I just kept more calm,” Garrison said after the first set loss. “In the first set, she was really grooving her shots and I realized I had to break up the momentum, so I started angling her wide a lot more.”

As Garrison kept pressuring, Kilstofte struggled. She said afterward that she’d been feeling under the weather and wasn’t sharp. She regrouped in the third set and won a long fourth game to even the score at 2-2.

Garrison regained the upper hand in the next game with some excellent shot making. She had a nice passing for a point and a beautiful lob that landed just inside the right sideline.

Garrison used her powerful groundstrokes to keep Kilstofte on the defensive.

“My movement wasn’t the best it could have been today and my serving was inconsistent,” said Kilstofte.

Garrison admitted her game wasn’t in top form. “I wasn’t at my peak, for sure. I was kind of having an off day. I was sticking to grounding it and not going too much out of my reach.”

When reminded of the winning tradition at Santa Barbara, Garrison said, “It’s good to be a Don.”

When they were a point away from losing the doubles title in the second set, Grant and Hale said they relied on their experience to pull out the set.

“We just kept our heads and stayed calm,” said Hale.

Said Grant: “We played so much together; we know how to hold ourselves together really well and we just kept playing good tennis.”

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