It was all about the underclassmen this year in North Bay League-Oak Division tennis — a wave of youth led by Montgomery freshman Georgia Beard.
It was Beard who dispatched Cardinal Newman sophomore Georgina Sierocinski 6-2, 6-0 Friday afternoon at Santa Rosa Junior College to take the league singles title and advance to the North Coast Section tournament Nov. 12.
Friday’s win over a talented Sierocinski only seemed right after the newcomer ripped through her inaugural league season without losing a match.
“My dad wanted me not to lose any games, but I’m like, it’s probably not going to happen,” she said.
It didn’t, but her record in league heading into the two-day tournament on Thursday and Friday was still impressive: Beard won 108 games and dropped just 21.
And she did that among a talented crop of underclassmen that should dominate league play in coming years: League champ and Maria Carrillo’s No. 1 Sophia Nguyen is a sophomore, as is Sierocinski.
And speaking of Carrillo, the top of their ladder is frighteningly young and frighteningly good: Sophomore Teresa Liang, who lost to Beard Thursday in the quarterfinals 6-0, 6-2, is just a sophomore, and Vaska Wysocki, who along with Newman’s Sierocinski provided the most entertaining match of Thursday’s quarterfinal, is only a freshman.
But it’s freshman Beard who is having her way so far this season.
“She just does everything a little bit better than we have seen,” Cardinal Newman coach Tony Greco said. “She doesn’t give you much. She has won pretty convincingly against my players.”
Beard dispatched Newman senior Ana Negri 6-0, 6-0 early in the season and topped Sierocinski 6-1, 6-2 on Oct. 23.
Still, on Friday Montgomery coach Joshua Silverman said the 6-2, 6-0 score didn’t necessarily reflect the level of competition. Especially in the first set, a lot of games went to deuce before Beard prevailed.
“It was a battle,” he said.
Beard handled the best player on the best team in the league, Carrillo’s Nguyen, 6-4, 6-0 on Sept. 20 and 6-2, 6-4 on Oct 9.
“She knocks the living cover off the ball,” Carrillo coach Bob Klyce said. “She just has tremendous groundstrokes.”
On Thursday, with Liang making some headway in the second set, Klyce couldn’t help but congratulate Beard when she ripped a backhand cross court and by Liang.
“That’s a nice shot,” he said.
And then another.
But just moments before those two winners, Beard looked as if she might be slipping. Liang was winning points she wasn’t earlier in the match.
After the match, I asked her about that point in the competition. What was happening?
“Oh, I choked,” she said, smiling.
“So I was winning 6-0 for set, second set I was up 5-0 and then I started to get like a little impatient, I guess to get it over, and then I just missed a lot,” she said. “My brain just kind of goes other places when I’m playing.”
That’s a battle she has to wage within the battle.
“Usually in all my matches I’ll be like really focused and into it, and then kind of nearing the end I’ll think, ‘Hmmm, I’ve got a lot of homework,’ or ‘What’s for dinner?’ or something like that,” she said.