Nicole Buist of Santa Barbara hits a two-fisted backhand return during her No. 1 singles set against Natasha Gill o fSan Marcos. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara High freshman Nicole Buist beat two-time defending Channel League champion and undefeated Natasha Gill of San Marcos at No. 1 singles, but the depth of the Royals made the difference in an 11-7 team victory on Tuesday at the Dons’ courts.

Buist won the first-round set against Gill, 7-5.

“Nicole was able to maintain control of the points by hitting through her shots and keeping the ball deep in the court,” said Santa Barbara coach Danny Echt. “Natasha is such a smart, patient player with a lot of variety, and Nicole played intelligently and aggressively especially late in the set when the tension was thick. 

“Obviously, it was an emotional win for Buist. It was after the first set that showed what Nicole is made of. She managed to reset and, despite fatigue, played two long sets against very steady opponents.  Nicole dug deep and came through with a sweep, finishing her third round in the dark. 

Jolie Mardiat of San Marcos stands ready at the net as Sydney Posch serves during doubles action against Santa Barbara.

Jolie Mardiat of San Marcos stands ready at the net as Sydney Posch serves during doubles action against Santa Barbara. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

Despite Gill’s loss in the first round, the Royals won the round 4-2 and built an 8-4 lead after two rounds of sets.

The teams split the third round, 3-3.

“Natasha made a few more errors than she normally does with her groundstrokes and serves,” San Marcos coach Jonny Sapp said. “But Nicole did a great job at keeping the balls deep, so Natasha had a little bit of a tougher time attacking her shots today.  In the end Nicole played a little steadier to get her win today against Natasha.  But Natasha stayed mentally tough and won her next two sets pretty handily.”

Stella Crawford went 2-1 at No. 2 singles for San Marcos and gave Buist a battle before falling 6-4. 

Victoria Chow went 1-1 at No. 3 singles. She lost 7-6 against Buist.

“This was the best I’ve seen Victoria play in the two years she’s been on the team.  She fought hard for every point,” said Sapp.

San Marcos won the match with strong play in doubles.

“This was the first time our doubles led the Royals to a victory,” said Sapp.

The San Marcos team of Mina Yazadzhiev/Kate Selby beat Santa Barbara’s top team of Caitlyn Buist/Ashley Birch, 7-5, and won their other two sets 6-0, 6-3.

“Mina and Kate both did a great job at setting each other up so the other girl could close the points out at the net, said Sapp. “Mina has one of the heaviest forehands that I’ve seen in girls tennis and she was able to rip balls to help her partner Kate finish off the point.”

Sydney Posch/Jolie Mardiat won two sets, 6-4, 6-4.

“Winning the two sets weren’t easy but their mental toughness and focus was great today to help them win the important points,” said Sapp.

In the last round, Charlotte Manion played with Posch and took a 6-3 decision to seal the match.

San Marcos improved to 11-0 overall and is closing in on the league championship.

“The Dons did all they could and competed well,” said Echt. “Earning seven points against this caliber of team is very respectable. Hats off to San Marcos who played very consistently all day.”

Dos Pueblos 14, Buena 4

The Chargers improved to 7-2 in Channel League and 8-2 overall.

Bishop Diego 15, St. Bonaventure 3

Sam Kenney won 18 straight games after losing the first two en route to sweeping her three sets in Bishop Diego’s 15-3 win over host St. Bonaventure on Tuesday in a Frontier League match.

Freshman Haley Hubbs also swept in singles and Elisha McCullough won a set in the first round.

“Sam just has a great drive to succeed and fights for every point. Haley’s game is maturing with each match and she is figuring out ways to win,” said coach Pete Kirkwood.

Anja Faasbind and Cecily Puech went undefeated at No.1 doubles (6-2,6-1,6-1) and Gallalea de la Cruz and Lauren Weeks also swept their three sets , including a 7-6 (7) tiebreak win against St Bonaventure No. 1. team. Rafaela Fay and Senta Spielhagen won two sets.

“We played at the highest level we have played at all year. It was a great effort up and down the line up,” said Kirkwood.

The Cardinals are now 2-1 in the Frontier league and 2-5 overall.

Carpinteria 17, Channel Islands 1

The Carpinteria girls tennis team was led by the doubles team of Stephanie Ramirez/Sasha Porinsh in the Citrus Coast League win.

“They really did a good job of communicating and finishing points at the right time,” said coach Charles Bryant.

Ashley Gonzalez/Natalie Martinez also swept and only dropped one game.

In singles, Zahra Porinsh swept her three sets and only dropped one game. Silke Leonard went 2-0 before being subbed out.  Olivia Broughton subbed in for her and went 1-0. Maria Sanchez went 2-1.

Carpinteria is now 9-5 overall and 6-2 in the Citrus Coast League.

Santa Ynez 5, Arroyo Grande 4

Morea Naretto’s 10-4 super tiebreaker win at No. 3 singles gave the Pirates a 5-4 league victory over Arroyo Grande.

“Morea played a wonderful match to clinch the win for us,” said coach Jennifer Rasmussen.

Santa Ynez won four singles sets. Allie Linane also won in a super tiebreaker, while Natalie O’Shaughnessy and Lily Mazza were victorious in straight sets.

Brielle Saarloos and Kate Maza won in doubles

Santa Ynez is 5-2 in league and 10-2 overall.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

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