When the Palisades High School girls tennis team reached the L.A. City Section Division I finals against Granada Hills on Nov. 8, they were seeded No. 1, but coach Bud Kling wasn’t too confident about their chances.
His concerns were unwarranted, however, as the Dolphins easily prevailed, 5-2, at the Balboa Sports Center in Encino.
“This was one of the most rewarding wins for us because we weren’t the favorite this year,” Kling said. “They returned their entire team, I replaced seven starters since last year.”
This was the sixth straight year that these two teams faced off in the city finals.
First up was Pali’s No. 1 player, sophomore Carolina Goldberg, who lost to Granada’s Rena Lin, 6-3, 6-2. Lin is one of the top-20 ranked players in Southern California in her age group.
Pali team captain Calypso Peraticos, playing No. 2 singles, beat her opponent 6-1, 6-4. The third match was a doubles showdown, and Alex Hart and Maddy Goore overcame Grenada, 6-4, 7-5.
Freshman Sophia Arvin, who played No. 3 singles, went three sets before losing to her Highlander opponent 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
But then, Pali’s No. 1 double team of Gigi Feingold and Caroline Ross responded with a 7-5, 7-5 victory to give Pali an insurmountable 4-2 lead.
Kate Harrington and Alex Miller, playing No. 3 doubles, won their match, 6-2, 6-4, to complete PaliHi’s fourth straight championship and title.
This is the 17th city title for PaliHi girls and Kling’s 41st city title overall. (His boys teams have won 24.)
When Pali won its quarterfinal match against Bell at the Palisades Tennis Center, Peraticos, a senior mainstay, told the News: “We were expected to come back this year [as champs], but then we lost four starters. At the beginning of the season, everyone was worried. Being undefeated was more important this year.”
When Kling left for the Rio Olympics in August, it looked like his team was set. Upon returning, he learned two girls had moved to the East Coast, another had joined a tennis academy, and another decided not to continue playing.
His seemingly easy path to another championship was gone and his team had to be reassembled.
“The girls had to work harder, and I had more demanding practices,” Kling said. “The big change for us was going up to Fresno for a tournament the third week of school. We won our division and we came together as a team.”
He praised his varsity girls for the way they brought the JV players in. “They were considered part of the team; no one was considered a second-hand player,” Kling said. “This team is special. There is unity from top to bottom.”