By Dave Loveton
Santa Barbara City College
VENTURA, Calif. -- Cerritos College got off to a fast start on Wednesday and never looked back in a 5-0 victory over De Anza College that gave the Falcons their second CCCAA State Women’s Tennis title in the last three years.
The Falcons, ranked No. 1 in the state, jumped ahead 4-1, 3-0 and 4-0 in the three doubles sets just 22 minutes into the match at the Pierpont Racquet Club. They lost only two games in the three pro sets. Itzi Torres/Diviana Bravo got the first point 8-0, followed by wins from No. 1 Lisa Suzuki/Kseniia Prokopchuk, 8-1 and No. 2 Petra Such/Moa Lindstrom, 8-1.
The Cerritos men, also top-ranked in the state, shut out American River 5-0 earlier at Ventura College in the dual-team final. It’s only the second time that one school has captured the men’s and women’s state tennis titles in the same year. College of the Desert achieved the feat in 2009.
The Cerritos women are 25-1 after posting their 23rd straight win and 20th shutout. The Falcons only loss came to NCAA Div. 2 Concordia of Irvine. Wednesday’s final was a rematch of the 2016 women’s team final when Cerritos beat De Anza 5-3.
The Dons (14-2) were making their third straight appearance in the state final. Their two losses this year were both to Cerritos.
“We really focused on doubles this year because we felt like our singles was so strong and we could compete with anyone in the state,” said Quinn Caldaron, who’s in his first season as coach of the Cerritos men’s and women’s teams. “With doubles being played first, we figured if we got up 2-1 or 3-0, we didn’t see any way of losing.
“It feels awesome to win two state titles and I feel lucky to be put in position to have this opportunity. We have to thank the last coach (Alvin Kim) a little bit for this. He poured his heart and soul into these teams.”
There are seven players on the Cerritos roster and they’re all from different countries. Suzuki is from Japan, Such grew up in Hungary, Prokopchuk hails from Ukraine while Lindstrom is from Sweden, Torres from Mexico and Bravo from Ecuador.
The Falcons only needed two points in singles. Torres got the fourth point, cruising past Sakina Khawari 6-1, 6-0 in 35 minutes at No. 5 and Prokopchuk put a bow on the 5-0 win with a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at No. 3 singles.
Prokopchuk was the second one in her family to win a state title on Wednesday, following her brother, Alex, who plays No. 3 on the men’s team.
“I slept well last night, so I had a lot of energy,” said Prokopchuk, who finished off Angelica Gagliano with a forehand winner at the net. “We felt very confident and communicated well in our doubles set.
“It feels great to be state champion and it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Suzuki is 13-4 this year and handed DeFrancescu her first loss in 18 matches. DeFrancescu beat Suzuki 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 on Feb. 16 but Suzuki was hindered by an injury.
“It feels really good to be state champions,” said Suzuki, who transferred from Kanas Wesleyan. “At this time last year, we had a different coach. We changed everything and started over. I like our team because we all get along really well.”
Suzuki is the No. 2 seed from the South for the CCCAA Individual State Championships, which start on Thursday at the Ojai Tournament and courts in Ventura and Oxnard. DeFrancescu is the No. 2 seed in the North.
CCCAA State Women’s Tennis Dual Team Championship
Cerritos 5, De Anza 0
1. Lisa Suzuki/Kseniia Prokopchuk (Cerr) def. Sandra DeFrancescu/Maria Zimmerman (DAC), 8-1
2. Petra Such/Moa Lindstrom (Cerr) def. Angelica Gagliano/Carlee Ellis (DAC), 8-1
3. Itzi Torres/Diviana Bravo (Cerr) def. Sakina Khawari/Sharon Cao (DAC), 8-0
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
1. Lisa Suzuki (Cerr) vs. Sandra DeFrancescu (DAC), 6-3, 0-1, DNF
2. Petra Such (Cerr) vs. Maria Zimmerman (DAC), 5-5, DNF
3. Kseniia Prokopchuk (Cerr) def. Angelica Gagliano (DAC), 6-0, 6-0
4. Moa Linstrom (Cerr) vs. Carlee Eliss (DAC), 6-4, 3-0, DNF
5. Itzi Torres (Cerr) def. Sakina Khawari (DAC), 6-0, 6-1
6. Diviana Bravo (Cerr) vs. Sharon Cao (DAC), 6-1, 2-2, DNF
Order of Finish: 5, 3