2016-10-28 / Sports
GIRLS’ TENNIS /// Simi Valley Pioneers Doubles tandem finishes season with 58-2 record for Pioneer girls’ tennis team
The Simi Valley High girls’ tennis team’s top doubles team, which compiled a 58-2 record this regular season, found a winning formula on the court.
“(Sidhu) gets everything in the back,” said Ross, a 6-foot-1 junior. “I try to get as much as I can at the net, which is pretty easy because I can just reach.
“It’s really nice to trust your partner. I know she has my back.”
Sidhu, a fleet-footed junior who played singles the past two seasons, said having the lanky Ross at the net makes a huge impact. Sidhu sets up opponents with a powerful cross-court shot. If Coastal Canyon League foes returned Sidhu’s shot, Ross would be there to poke it across the net for the point.
The Pioneers teamed up for the first time this year. They only lost one match during the regular season, on Oct. 10, to Camarillo’s Tatiana Anderson and Kayli Govil. Ross and Sidhu also lost to the Anderson-Govil tandem in the Coastal Canyon doubles finals on Oct. 26, but not before the Pioneers toppled the Scorpions’ No. 1 doubles team 6-1 on Oct. 13.
Despite narrowly missing a league crown, Ross and Sidhu can still look back and smile on a breakout season.
They didn’t expect having this much success.
“I just wanted to have fun,” Ross said. “I wanted to do well, but I never thought we’d do this well.”
“I was very wary at the beginning of the season,” he said. “I never want to put my two best (doubles) players as the No. 1 team; I like to spread the wealth. At that time, they were not the two best. Now, they really are our two best doubles players.”
Ross, 16, excelled at doubles as a freshman and sophomore. Sidhu, 16, made great strides since her sophomore year, only her second season of playing tennis.
“Shanaya really improved over the summer,” Wickwire said. “She was by far the most improved on the entire team.”
The Pioneers helped Simi Valley (17-2 overall, 6-2 in league) take second place in the Coastal Canyon. The team also reached the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 team playoffs. Brackets are expected to be released on Halloween.
“At first it was difficult because we’d never played together,” Sidhu said. “Paige is an amazing net player and I play back, so we work really well together. Our chemistry is really good.”
Ross, who wears a yellow SpongeBob visor during matches, started playing tennis at age 12. Her mother, Gladys, plays tennis in her spare time. It took a while for Ross to pick up the nuances of the sport, but she’s fully committed to the game.
A member of numerous clubs on campus, including Interact Club, Ross recently painted pumpkins to donate to a local senior center. She maintains a 4.6 grade-point average and would like to attend her dream school, Cal Berkeley. She wants to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.
Sidhu joined the tennis team her freshman year after playing soccer for nine years.
“Tennis was always a really interesting sport to me because it was as an individual,” she said. “I really wanted to go out there and play singles.”
She patrolled the courts in singles her first two seasons before finding her niche in doubles.
Sidhu, who maintains a 4.7 GPA, is the younger sister of Shawn Sidhu, who played four seasons of varsity basketball at Simi Valley before graduating in 2014. He’s now a student at UC Davis.
“Shan,” as Shanaya Sidhu is known by teammates, is a member of the Interact, American Red Cross and Health Occupations Students of America clubs on campus. She’s undecided on a college but knows she wants to enter the medical field.
Before she can go off and become a doctor, Sidhu said there’s unfinished business at Simi Valley.
“Our goal is to go undefeated (in 2017),” Sidhu said. “I honestly think we can do it, especially with the way we’ve been playing this year. Next year, if we can go undefeated, that’d be an awesome senior year.”
ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR SIMI VALLEY
Coastal Canyon League foes must have been seeing double when facing the Pioneers this season.
While Paige Ross and Shanaya Sidhu led the way, Simi Valley’s other doubles teams also compiled superb records. Soliee Gutierrez and Megan Ober finished the regular season 51-4 in match play. Adriana Lazalde and Pamela Rayburn were 53-4.
“I was really impressed with our doubles this year,” head coach Rob Wickwire said. “I knew our No. 1 doubles team would be really good, and I knew our No. 2 would be good, but I had no idea how good our No. 3 was.”
The success on the doubles side took pressure off the Pioneers’ singles players.
Taylour Newman, a junior, was her usual dominant self as the team’s top singles player. Senior Sierra Paoli handled business at No. 2 singles. Two freshmen, Ashwinii Saravanan and Sneha Sundaram, shared time at singles.
The Pioneers, who are dealing with some injuries, are hopeful heading into the postseason. The division playoffs start next week.
“I’d love to have a little run in the playoffs,” Wickwire said. “I think we have good chemistry and a solid team.”
Email Jonathan Andrade at email@example.com.