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Rocklin tennis reaches semi-finals before ending season

Granite Bay keeps Thunder from championship
By: Staff Report
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Although the Granite Bay Grizzlies would eventually claim the Sac-Joaquin Section girls tennis championship, the Rocklin Thunders’ progress this season helped set the program on a path for even greater success. Coming into sections as the No. 3 seed from the Sierra Foothill League, the Thunder had a lot of traveling to do to reach the semi-finals. They began by knocking off Tri-County Conference No. 2 seed Inderkum, 7-2, and then did the same to the Metropolitan Conference’s top seed, McClatchy. That meant a 2 ½ hour drive to Los Banos, near Turlock, to face the Western Athletic Conference champion, Tigers. “Mentally the girls needed to prepare for a defensive style team as Los Banos kept the ball in play at all costs,” Rocklin tennis head coach Dale Eckenburg wrote in an e-mail. “We knew what their style was, so our girls needed to keep their minds in the game, they did that and we took home a 7-2 victory.” In singles, the Thunder’s top three gave the club an early lead. Stefanie Studen battled for a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 win, while Shelby Kubota won convincingly 6-1, 6-4. At the No. 3 spot, Shannon Peiffer continued her dominant play with a 7-5, 6-2 win. That set the stage for the Granite Bay match, the SFL’s No. 1 seed. The Grizzlies would defeat Rocklin, as they did in the regular season, but the Thunder showed they were gaining on the eventual champions. “Playing Granite Bay we wanted to continue the growth and improve on our earlier performances,” wrote Eckenburg. Rocklin’s Farrell Ahlf won her match convincingly, 6-2, 6-0, and the doubles team of Angie Tran and Taylor McDougall won 6-3, 6-4. It was Tran’s 21st victory of the season. And the Thunder finished third in sections, out of 43 squads. Granite Bay went on to defeat the SFL’s No. 2 seed, Del Oro, 5-4, for the crown. “We set our goals at the beginning of the season to take care of business and get to the playoffs.” Eckenburg wrote, “Not only did we get there, we had to face a tough McClatchy team and an upstart Los Banos team that had only lost two individual matches (88-2) all year.” The Thunder rolls.