Taft High varsity tennis players Ana Estrada and Yeraldin Barrera became the first girl league champions since 1970 when they beat four top teams here Friday and Saturday. Each of the eight league teams sent their top six players to participate in either singles or doubles.
The last and only Taft girls to win a South Sequoia League championship were Debbie Downing and Becky Herrod in 1969 and again in 1970.
That drought came to an end on Saturday when No. 1 seeds Estrada and Barrera beat No. 2 seeds Esmi Castro and Carissa Gomez of Wasco, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, in the finals. The Taft duo beat Brittany Aguilar and Anneka Tanus of Bakersfield Christian in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-0; Evelyn Iglesias and Raycheal Cruz of Cesar Chavez, 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals; and, Sandra Perez and Paulett Zavala of Shafter, 6-1, 6-1, in the round of 16.
All six Taft players finished in the top four and medaled and will advance to the area (Kern County) match on Friday and Saturday in Wasco. Previously, the most Taft had advanced in a league championship was three players.
Number 3 seed Diana Medina played a steady, never-say-die, marathon match to upset the hard-hitting and accurate No. 2 seed, Priti Devaprakash of BCHS, 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4. Medina finished second in singles. Medina beat Arvin No. 1 Yesenia Santoyo, 6-0, 6-1, in the quarterfinals and Kenia Orozco of Robert F. Kennedy, 6-0, 6-0, in the round of 16.
Number 3 seeds, Taylan Erro and Gloria Hartley, took third in doubles. They came from behind to beat Aguilar and Tanus, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the consolation finals. The Taft duo lost to Castro and Gomez of Wasco in the semis, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Erro and Hartley beat Taylor Touchstone and Kristen Kaing of BCHS, 6-1, 6-1, in the quarterfinals; and, Mayra Valle and Faye Tabalanza of RFK, 6-0, 6-0, in the round of 16.
Unseeded Lupita Lozano upset No. 4 seed, Brenda Barraza of Wasco, in a rout, 6-0, 6-0, in the quarterfinals to finish fourth in singles. Lozano, a junior, beat Shafter's No. 2 player, senior Denisse Lorza, 6-2, 6-2, in the round of 16.
Taft earned four of the eight medals. Bakersfield Christian's undefeated No. 1 Tara Miller swept through her opponents, 48-2 in games, to win the singles crown. Devaprakash took third in singles when she beat Lozano, 7-5, 6-4. BCHS also took fourth in doubles. Wasco got the other medal, second in doubles.
"Friday could not have gone better," Taft coach Jim Carnal said. "The going got tough on Saturday in the semis and finals.
Ana and Yeraldin lived up to their seeding and became only the third and fourth girl league champions from Taft in history.
Diana finishing second and unseeded Lupita finishing fourth were good accomplishments. The stiff competition should help prepare us for team playoffs."