Heritage sophomore Erin Crane pulled off a seemingly insurmountable feat that no other competitor has achieved in three years at the Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL) tournament this week: defeating Freedom star Alexis Matabuena.
But even after beating the three-time champ 7-5, 2-6, 6-0, Crane could hardly explain how she won.
“I don’t know, honestly, I just stayed in my zone and kept playing,” she said. “I got nervous, but I calmed down.”
Crane, who will now advance to the North Coast Section tournament on Nov. 18, was unflappable during the two-hour match at Oakley’s Diamond Hills Sports Club and Spa, routinely matching and frequently one-upping the Freedom star until she secured the victory.
The sensational win capped a dominating two-day performance, where Crane won five straight matches, which included wins over teammates Noor Abuaita and Nicollet Alexander, and Pittsburg’s Andrea Ruiz. Those victories set her up for the battle that ensued against Matabuena.
“I was glad when it was over,” Crane said. “I was like ‘It’s finally over; I finally won.’”
Despite the loss, Matabuena’s three-year feat won’t soon be forgotten. A handful of fellow players, coaches and spectators all acknowledged her sensational play as she left the court.
“She leaves everything out on the court,” said Freedom head coach Monique Paris. “She gives 100% every match and represents Freedom well.”
In other singles action, Alexander knocked off teammate Natasha Siao to secure third place in the tournament.
While most eyes were glued to the Matabuena-Crane battle, the Patriot duo of Alyssa Duran and Sofia Sormani were dueling their teammates, Tammi Sison and Alana Chicaine, to take home the doubles championship.
“It’s weird because we are going against each other and everyone is from Heritage, but by the end, we are all friends,” Duran said.
Sormani and Duran shined on the court for two consecutive days, going unbeaten in four straight matches, including wins over the Liberty team of Taylor Lena and Emily Abono, and Pittsburg’s Kristin De Vera and Brandy Barajas.
Sormani attributed the squad’s wins to teamwork, effort and focus — all of which were on display against Sison and Chicaine in the final.
“We were focused on the match and we knew we were going to do it,” she said.
Not to be outdone, Lena and Abono grabbed a respectable third place finish in the tournament, with a win over Deer Valley’s Haley McKenna and Lauren Sirmons.
Sormani and Duran are expected to advance to the North Coast Section tournament on Nov. 18.
Heritage as a team is also expected to secure a spot in the North Coast Section team playoffs beginning Nov. 12.