Thunderbirds deep playoff run stopped in quarterfinals by eventual champ Westridge

Junior Sharon Chu has no problem returning the serve.

Up against the top-ranked school and hopelessly behind, the Yucaipa High School tennis team played out its season in style against eventual champion Westridge of Pasadena. Trailing 9-2 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, the doubles team of seniors Brielle Lara and Sierra Dosey led a late charge with a 3-0 sweep to help the Thunderbirds get within 9-5 before their season came to an end by a score of 12-6.

“It’s sad to see it all end,” said Lara.

“But we went out like winners,” added Dosey.

To no one’s surprise, Westridge won its next two playoff matches to earn the CIF-Southern Section, Division 4 title. At Yucaipa on Veterans Day, Westridge showcased powerful singles players Caroline Lopez and Sydney Sasaki who finally wore down Sharon Chu and Catherine Carrizosa after lengthy back-and-forth battles. Westridge finished its banner season with a 20-3 record. YHS finished at 17-4.

Yucaipa’s only other senior, Lilly Roberson also closed out her career with a win with help from doubles partner Paige Mead. “That’s it. It was a really good season,” said Roberson, a two-time, first team All Citrus Belt League performer. Lara and Dosey both earned first team honors. Juniors Carrizosa and Mead will come back next season and try to repeat their All-CBL season. Chu, also a junior, earned all-league second team.

“We were predicted to finish second to last in league and it motivated us to do better,” said Carrizosa. “Today, we knew the girls from Pasadena were good. We wanted to make it look good and get ready for next year.” YHS was able to advance to the quarterfinals after wins against Xavier Prep, Paloma Valley, and Alhambra.

Carrizosa advised opponents to not underestimate her team, something that Westridge coach Gene You said he was aware of. “Yucaipa is a good team. We knew it was gong to be a fight.”

YHS coach Scott Salinas returned the compliment. “We’ve never played anyone that good. We gave their top singles players a battle, but Westridge has too many tournament tough players who play year round. Hopefully, this will motivate our girls for the future.”

Salinas pointed to current JV player Jillian Bernardo as part of his team’s future. Bernardo, a sophomore doubles player said she learned from watching the playoffs.

“I saw some technical things and I learned about playing mind games.” Asked if she’s ready to play, varsity next season, Bernardo replied; “That’s the plan.”

(Correction from last week: The former Amy Neely (current Amy Carpenter) played on the 1992 Yucaipa CIF-championship tennis team).

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