In a match her coach said was much closer than the final score revealed, junior tennis star Hillary Fazekas reared back on her final serve Thursday afternoon and hammered an ace, topping rival Sophia Hooper and helping to deliver the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) championship to the Red-tailed Hawks with a 6-3 win over Redwood.
“It was a thing of beauty,” said Tam High coach Bill Washauer. "Hillary knew what she was into out there. Sophia is a very good player. And they both knew they were playing for the MCAL championship.”
Fazekas’ 6-1, 6-3 win over Hooper propelled the Hawks (24-1 overall, 16-0 MCAL) to the title, and Tam's Anika Kharkar and Naomi Arthur capped it off with a comeback 1-6, 6-2, 10-4 win at No. 1 doubles.
Redwood was without its top singles player Hadley Berg, who was heading to Hawaii to play in a U.S. Tennis Association event. Berg’s absence pushed Redwood’s No. 2 singles player Ayla Aksu up to No. 1, and she defeated Tam No. 1 Chelsea Hayashi 6-0, 6-1. But Tam’s No. 3 singles player Liza Brusman garnered a 6-1, 6-0 win over Maddie Bell, while Lani Tice topped Redwood’s Keiko Kamei by a score of 6-3, 6-1.
“It was a wonderful moment for the team,” Washauer said. “Redwood made some really smart adjustments to their lineup to load up on the singles side, and our girls were a little tense going on. But this team has really worked hard. They’re all fully committed to what they’re doing and to the team.”
Although it during the regular season, the MCAL title was a big step forward for the Tam program, Washauer said, as it ended the Giants’ string of two straight MCAL titles and overall recent dominance.
The title also provided a major source of momentum as the Hawks head to the North Coast Section Division I tournament, which begins Nov. 8. Seedings come out Nov. 6. It will be the Hawks’ first Division I appearance since it to be moved up from Division II despite falling just below the minimum enrollment for Division I. After , Washauer said his players are ready for the challenge of competing against bigger schools.
“The girls were presented with an opportunity this season and what champions do when they have an opportunity is they seize it," Washauer said. "I’m hoping with our record that we’ll get a very good seed even though we didn’t play a lot of DI schools.”
“NCS is going to be a really fun part of the season for us,” he added. "We’ll have to play our best tennis and stay focused.”