The emergence of sophomore Heidi Hatton has been a welcomed addition for the Santa Barbara High School girls’ tennis team.
Since being inserted at the No. 2 singles, Hatton has lost just one set, a tiebreaker to Cabrillo’s Kayla Kling.
On Tuesday, Hatton continued her hot streak pulling out three wins, including a win over Alessa Somer, as Santa Barbara High School bested Dos Pueblos for the second time this season, 12-6.
“I did not expect this to come this season, to be playing like this. I have been working hard but I did not expect to have this record,” Hatton said.
Since returning from her nerve injury freshman year, Hatton has put extreme emphasis on getting better practicing five to six times a week, and it certainly is paying off.
Tennis is a close sport to the Hatton family. Hatton’s grandmother coached tennis at Michigan State while her father was also a very good player, competing at some national tournaments.
“It means a lot for me to follow in their footsteps. As I said, I never thought I would be playing this well but it feels good to be able to tell my grandma and have my dad watch me play like this,” Hatton said.
Hatton was the first win of the day for either side, pulling out a 6-2 victory over DP’s Kate Scherz.
The next round featured the rematch between Somer and Hatton. Hatton had beaten Somer in the teams’ first meeting, 6-2.
Somer did not want a repeat of that and showed it from the start with an aggressive serve and a tenacious style of play helping her jump out to a 4-1 lead.
It also did not help that Hatton was missing on a lot of plays.
With wins come expectations and Hatton herself has become a very known player in the Channel League.
“There is pressure for sure, especially after getting athlete of the week. After you sweep all these schools the first time, I feel like I am expected to do it again the second time. Especially against Alessa today, I was not playing well at the beginning so my coach told me to reset,” Hatton said.
With a calm mind, Hatton got to work. She went back to relying on her powerful serve, and along the way found her pinpoint accuracy.
It helped her earn a comeback win as she beat Somer 6-4, earning the final point on her serve.
Hatton would win her final match, 6-1.
“Heidi played with really good resolve. She didn’t win with glaring colors, she did the dirty work well but I know she has a lot left in her,” Santa Barbara coach Danny Echt said.
Hatton certainly is a key cog in the Dons gameplan, but the thing about Santa Barbara is its depth is really starting to shine as the season progresses.
Against DP a few weeks ago, Santa Barbara only picked up three doubles victories. On Tuesday, the Dons picked up six wins on doubles courts.
Particularly, the growth of freshman pair Koko Kelly and Charlotte Ryan has been huge.
After a 6-2 win in the first round, Kelly/Ryan found themselves down 5-4 against Cami Chou/Romy Greenweld.
The two bounced back to take the next three points and take the set 7-5. The pair would finish the evening 2-1.
The other doubles teams for Santa Barbara, Hannah Mendez/Natalie Brewer and Margo Omdahl/Katie Clyne, both went 2-1 on the day as well.
Moreover, at DP, Santa Barbara lost a lot of close matches. This time around, Santa Barbara won five of eight matches that were decided by two points or less.
“It has a lot to do with confidence. We are doing the little things right. Especially in doubles, the girls are just playing with a lot more feel than we did a month ago. And feel is one of the most important aspects of tennis and that isn’t switched on, it comes with practice and repetition. And our girls aren’t looking for those big winner shots, they see the value in percentage play and in a way, I just feel we are playing so much smarter,” Echt said.
For DP, Somer finished the day 2-1, finishing the day with a 6-0 win while their No. 3 doubles pair, Annie Field/Danya Belkin went 2-1 as well with a 7-6 (5) win and a 6-4 victory.
“It is a loss on paper, but our growth is evident. A lot of matches were close and our girls played great tennis and we pumped each other as a team. Overall, we never gave up so even with the loss we have a lot to grow with,” DP coach Laura Housinger said.
And, even though the score was a bit more lopsided than last time, Housinger is confident in her team if these two programs met for a third time for whatever reason.
“I think we could beat them. It is one of those matches that if we played them week by week we would see some changes because we would continue going back and forth. It’s funny, I know its 12-6 but I think we played better this time than last time and I know we can still improve,” Housinger said.
Santa Barbara will host San Marcos at 3 p.m. on Thursday while Dos Pueblos will head out to Santa Ynez for a match at 3 p.m. on Thursday.