SANGER – The Sanger High Apaches girls tennis team cleared another hurdle in their quest to continue an impressive streak of dominance in the County Metro Athletic Conference.
The Apaches swept all three doubles matches along with four of six singles meetings to post a 7-2 victory over the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers on a warm fall afternoon at SHS tennis courts Thursday, Oct. 5. It allowed Sanger (17-2 overall) to remain unbeaten at 7-0 atop the CMAC standings in a bid to capture an eighth consecutive conference crown.
“I’m really proud of our kids and their effort today,” said coach Jeremy Warkentin. “We came out prepared, focused and played with incredible mental toughness. SJM has a very tough team and our girls were up to the challenge today. It was a total team effort and a great win!”
Sanger’s two top players, sophomore Haley Delgado and senior Sienna Jordan helped power the team’s effort against the third place Panthers (4-3). Delgado, the CMAC Player of the Year as a freshman in 2022, teamed with Jordan to roll past SJM’s Annaleise Kellmeyer and Ella Saroyan, 8-1, in number one doubles.
Delgado, who also is the reigning conference singles champion, scored a 6-2, 6-1 straight sets sweep of Catherine Holt in number one singles to improve to 7-0 in league. Jordan, a member of the Apaches’ 2020 Central Section championship team, defeated Kellmeyer 6-2, 6-2 in number two singles.
A highlight of the doubles sweep was a 9-7 comeback victory by Aubrey Jimenez and Rachel Rusconi over Roxie Richburg and Ellie Assemi. The team trailed 6-3 before catching fire to win six of seven remaining games. The number three doubles team of Hannah Rusconi and Ella Hockersmith also held on to win by an 8-6 score.
Hannah Rusconi and Savanna Leas captured the Apaches’ other singles victories, with Rusconi prevailing in a first set tiebreaker on her way to a straight sets win and Leas prevailing over Yalia Gutierrez in a 12-10 marathon third set.
“We have three seniors on varsity, five juniors and three sophomores,” said Warkentin. Their coach said the team is on pace to secure a berth in the Division I section playoffs, after losing in the Division II quarter finals last season.
Sanger leads Bullard (6-1) by one match in the CMAC standings, and take on the Knights in Fresno next Thursday, Oct. 12, in a 3 p.m. start with a chance to secure another outright conference crown. First, the Apaches will host Garza High at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10 at SHS courts.
The Central Section team playoffs will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and last through Tuesday, Nov. 1. Sanger High is in the section Central Area placement, and will participate in the area tournament on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3-4 at Mt. Whitney High in Visalia. The section individual meet will take place on Nov. 10-11 at San Luis Obispo High School on the Central Coast.