It's been 53 years since league was formed. May and 5 teammates advance to area

Taft High senior Leighton May made history Thursday when she became the first Taft girl to win the South Sequoia League singles championship, coach Jim Carnal announced. The South Sequoia League dates to 1965 and no Taft girl had ever won the singles championship in its 53-year history.

Taft’s No. 1 player, who was seeded No. 1 in the two-day SSL championship tournament, drubbed No. 2 Melody Bashirtash of Bakersfield Christian, 6- 0, 6-2, in the finals. May’s difficult match of the tournament was the brutal, back-and-forth semifinal against Sicilian foreign-exchange student Gaia Randazo of Shafter. May hung on to win that battle, 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), 6-4. On Friday, May earned a first-round bye before beating Arvin’s Jazmin Flores, 6-2, 6-1.

“Coach Bill Friend and I agree that Leighton is the best girls player we have seen in the 10 seasons we have coached together,” Carnal praised.

All six of Taft’s players advanced to the area (Kern County) individual tournament at Garces High Oct. 27 and 28.

Elizabeth Huizar, seeded 6, upset No. 3 seed, Bre-Ana Jara of Cesar Chavez, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, on Friday, before falling to Bashirtash, 7-5, 6-3, in the semis and Randazo, 6-1, 6-3, in the third-place consolation match.

In doubles, Taft’s Diana Huizar and Yuvia Woggn lost, 6-0, 6-0, in the semis to Anabella McGilvary and Abby Stevens of BCHS, who finished fourth in the Valley last year. But they beat teammates, Dariana Calderon and Brisa Guizar, the No. 2 seeds, 6-3, 6-1 in the third-place consolation match. Calderon and Guizar lost to Delaney Anderholt and Grace Spolestra of BCHS, 6-4, 6-1, in the semis. McGilvary and Stevens beat their teammates, Anderholt and Spolestra, 6-2, 6-3 in the finals.

Taft concluded the league season last week with 9-0 shut outs of McFarland and Shafter to finish 21-5 overall; 12-2 in the SSL. Taft won its petition to drop from Division III back to Division IV in team playoffs. Seedings will be released Monday.

Like varsity, Taft’s JV finished second in the SSL to BCHS in the Eagles’ final season in the league.