CLAREMONT – El Toro High did not win the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 girls tennis championship Friday, but a runner-up finish gave the program a big boost for the future.
The Chargers, making their first finals appearance, came close to capturing the crown but lost a 10-8 match to Bishop Montgomery at The Claremont Club.
“We did a great job this year and came into the CIF as a wild card,” longtime El Toro coach Karen Amos said. “Every win we were saying, ‘I guess we can do it,’ and they kept winning, which was great. This experience was a total surprise to us.”
El Toro had never made it past the second round of the playoffs until this season.
Leading the way for the Chargers were their three doubles teams – Annette Nguyen-Caitlin Yang, Maleia Robinson-Amber Wenzel and Julia Bayless-Grace Graham. Each team won two of its three matches Friday.
One of the crucial wins of the match came in singles from El Toro No. 1 Antonia Kustoff in her second set, as she defeated Bishop Montgomery’s No. two singles player, 6-4.
That win tied the match at 6-6 after two rounds.
“I did not know that at the time, and didn’t know how important it was,” said Kustoff, a sophomore. “I was actually down 3-1 in the set and came back and fought hard, as I was moving my feet more.”
Freshman Nithika Kiruveedula earned one point for the Chargers.
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