Taft defeats Independence 7-2

The Taft High varsity girls’ tennis team beat the defending Division III Valley champion Independence Falcons, 7-2, Tuesday in the season opener for both.

Likewise, Taft’s JV won on the road, 6-3.

Taft’s top three singles players swept their singles matches. Kelsey Rushing dropped the first set to Emily Tieu, 4-6, but then came back to win the close match, 6-4, 10-8.

Leighton May got past Breanna Garza, 6-3, 6-4. And, Dariana Calderon was the first one off the court with a convincing 6-1, 6-3, win over Jenika Maala. Taft’s Brisa Guizar dropped a close overtime match to Meigan Wu, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8. Taft’s Zayn Herrera beat Addie Conception, 6-4, 6-0. Taft’s Diana Huizar lost the last five points of a close overtime match to Bridget Smith, 3-6, 6-4, 10-7.

Taft swept the doubles. May and Calderon beat Garza and Maala, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8. Rushing and Herrera had no problem with Tieu and Wu, 6-2, 6-2. And Elizabeth Huizar and Cielo Woggn easily beat Victoria Conception and Courtney Olsen, 6-0, 6-4.

“That was a good, hard-fought opening win for us,” coach Jim Carnal said. “This convincing win establishes us as a top tier Division III team this season. Next we travel to Division II powerhouse Bakersfield High Thursday, before opening league by hosting Arvin on Tuesday.

In the JV match, Taft also swept the top three singles matches. Third-year players Rosa Silva and Alondra Cisneros won easily, 6-1, 6-0, and 6-3, 6-0, respectively. The rest of Taft’s players are beginners. At No. 3, Taft freshman Gabriela Aguilar scraped her way to a 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 win. Freshmen Jessica DeLaCruz and Ivonne Gutierrez lost their first high school matches, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-0, 6-1, respectively. At No. 6, first-year junior Caitlin Bailey won easily, 6-2, 6-1.

At No. 1 doubles, Silva and DeLaCruz cruised to an 8-3 pro-set victory. At No. 2 doubles, Cisneros and Bailey won 8-3. Taft had only six eligible players, instead of the mandatory eight, and had to forfeit the No. 3 doubles match.