Yosemite High School’s tennis team was defeated 5-4 at home by the Dinuba Emperors in the Central Section Division IV championship match Wednesday afternoon.
It was the first time a tennis team at Yosemite, boys or girls, made it to the finals for a section championship, and Dinuba’s first tennis title in school history.
“It’s a little surreal but I’m very excited for these guys, and I’m very proud of them,” said Fadra Kiehn, Dinuba’s head coach. “Yosemite’s kids played a tough match, and a really good match. They are incredible players. But my guys kept their heads in the game and they played together, as a team. They encouraged one another as a team.”
In singles matches, the top two Badger players, Steven Standefer and Cannon Eames, came away with victories over Eric Castrejon (6-2, 6-2) and Jacob Navarro (6-1, 7-5, 11-9). No. 3 Ian Pincus, No. 4 Tyler Hellwig, No. 5 Burke Stewart, and No. 6 David O’Brien all lost to their Emperor counterparts Ulises Ramirez (6-3, 6-2), Izzy Garcia (6-3, 6-1), Dominick Oronoa (7-5, 11-9), and Santos Herrera (6-2, 7-5).
In doubles play, the teams of Standefer and Eames, and Pincus and Hellwig won their matchups, but Harrison Thearle and Logan Cacy lost to Castrejon, Dinuba’s No. 1 player, and its No. 8 player Juan Magdaleno.
Badger Head Coach Aaron Eames said Kiehn’s move to place her No. 1 player in a lower-ranked doubles team was questionable, and something he hadn’t seen before in 30 years of coaching. When Eames attempted to change his roster to match Kiehn’s, he said they placed a call to a DISTRICT? official who told him he would be unable to do so.
“I don’t feel that’s right,” Eames said. “If they’re going to do something like that, then let me counter, you know? But they wouldn’t.”
Outside that, he said he was proud of his team.
“I feel like we had the best team,” Eames said. “I am so proud of these boys and what they’ve done all year.”
“We did an awesome job this year,” added Standefer, a senior. “It’s the best season Yosemite’s ever had. I’m happy. No regrets. This is the best team I’ve ever been on. These guys are my brothers. It’ll be hard to leave, but I’m sure they’re going to do great without me.”
Yosemite, after earning its third straight North Sequoia League title earlier this year, was ranked No. 1 in the division, while Dinuba was No. 2. coming into the match.