When is a tie cause for joyous celebration?
For the top-ranked Westlake High girls tennis team, it is at the end of a wild, emotional, heart-pounding, back-and-forth, 9-9 deadlock with second-seeded Peninsula that delivers a much-sought CIF-Southern Section Open Division championship.
The two powerhouses, meeting for the third straight time in a high-stakes championship final, finished all tied at the end of their heavyweight matchup at the Claremont Tennis Club on Friday. But it was Westlake prevailing in the tiebreaker on total games won, 72-68, to take home the grand prize.
It's the Westlake program's sixth Southern Section crown, and the first since 1991. That's 30 years.
"It's incredible," said Westlake head coach Scott Yasgoor. "Great match. Great feeling to win it. This is a special group of girls, and they've earned everything they've done."
It's also Westlake's first championship at the high-level Open Division. The Warriors (19-1) can claim status at the top team in California. Actually, more than that.
"We're ranked No. 1 in the nation," the coach said proudly.
The match, he added, was not for the faint of heart.
"I'm on pins and needles the whole time," Yasgoor said. "The girls keep battling. They keep battling. You keep waiting for the set that creates the edge."
How close was it? The match was tied at 3-3 after the first round and 6-6 after the second rotation. It took a monumental victory by Westlake's No. 2 doubles team of Rachel Sherrill and Sophia Tyoran to ultimately decide the victor.
The Warriors' No. 2 tandem defeated Peninsula's No. 1 team of Lindsay Eisenman and Sydney Yamamoto, 6-2, to take a 9-8 lead in the final round. Sherrill-Tyoran won two of three sets.
"That was huge," said Yasgoor. "Without that, we lose the match 10-8."
Westlake won six of the nine singles sets, including a 3-0 sweep by Allison Lian that proved decisive. The Warriors had a chance to close on the victory in the match's final set, but Westlake No. 1 singles ace Emma Sun lost her first set of the season to Peninsula's Krisha Mahendran, 6-4, to draw the contest even at 9-9.
Lian won her three sets, 6-0, 6-4, 6-2. Sun won her other two sets, 6-0, 6-1.
The two Southern Section powers split a pair of title showdowns in the spring season.
Peninsula won the meeting in the Open Division final, 11-7, to earn its second consecutive CIF-SS championship. Westlake exacted revenge in the CIF/USTA Southern California Regional final two weeks later with a 5-2 victory.
The Warriors aren't done yet. The SoCal Regionals will begin next week.
Loren Ledin is the Prep Editor for The Star. He can be reached at email@example.com or 805-437-0285.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Westlake girls tennis secures CIF-Southern Section Open Division title