Currently ranked #3 in the CIF-SS Div. 5 Polls, it was a day of adjustments that would test the composure and adaptability of the Lady Minutemen, as two of their top players, Michael Wilkins and Malena Smith, were last minute scratches due to illness and injury. This forced Coach Arthur Hsieh to make significant changes to the line up, with players playing in unusual positions, playing with partners they’ve never played with, and the insertion of alternates into the starting lineup.
If the Lady Defenders were to notch their first victory over the Lady Minutemen in the Coach Hsieh era (2012 – present), this seemed to be a prime opportunity. Perhaps running on the energy of novelty, MHS jumped out of the gates to a 5-1 lead after the first round. After the novelty wore off, the unfamiliarity of playing with new partners, coupled with what looked like some complacency, led to Maranatha being down on all three doubles courts, with the top two teams, #1 Georgia Wilder/Amanda Yee, and #2 Aria Haver-Hill/Rose Zhang, losing their second round matches. Though struggling with injury, Smith entered the match in the second round of play at #3 doubles, joining Shuhan Yang. Though definitely far from being in sync, Smith/Yang, scratched and clawed their way to a 6-4 victory.
Stinging from being thoroughly outplayed and out hustled in the previous round, Wilder/Yee and Haver-Hill/Zhang rebounded with more energetic and more focused play in the final round, handily winning, 6-1 and 6-2, showing what they’re capable of when playing the way they are capable of playing.
The final set of the day was the most dramatic, as Yang/Smith found themselves down 3-5 , succumbing to VC’s #1’s concerted strategy to hit nearly every ball to Yang. Yang/Smith buckled down and responded with four straight games, pulling out the upset, 7-5. Yang’s determination to not let their strategy win out was evident in the final four games, as she was nearly flawless, freeing Smith up to capitalize.
The singles lineup won 8 of 9, with #1 Madison Kane and #2 Stella Wang pulling off sweeps (6-0, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-2, 6-0) and #3 Molly Mittelberg coming away with two wins (0-6, 6-3, 6-2)
Kane, the newly named Pasadena Sports Now Girls Athlete of the Week, extended her streak of 6-0 victories to 20 straight sets.
It is unknown whether Wilkins and Smith will be able to suit up for tomorrow’s huge match against defending CIF-SS Division 4 Champions, Glendale Nitros. The match will be held at Glendale HS at 3:30 p.m.