Cupcakes have never tasted any better.
Immediately following their 10-8 victory at Oak Park last week, the Malibu girls’ tennis team celebrated teammate Mia Green’s birthday with an assortment of elaborate cupcakes. It was only fitting, because the Sharks were already in a celebratory mood.
Moments earlier, Kate Lasky’s 6-1 victory clinched the win for Malibu, handing the Sharks their fourth consecutive Tri-Valley League title. It also meant these dominating ladies secured an undefeated passage through league play in 2013, sweeping rivals Oak Park, Oaks Christian and La Reina.
“It feels great, of course,” said first-year coach Todd Montgomery. “I’m very proud of the team. I am super happy that we were able to win the league. Malibu has the right cultural environment to really have a dynasty.”
Despite graduating three-time TVL singles champion Britta Mosser and a host of other talented ladies from last year’s squad, which went 18-1 overall, Malibu (10-3, 6-0) retooled for yet another championship run that culminated with smiles, high-fives and a group ‘Happy Birthday’ sing-along to Green.
“It’s been amazing winning each year, and especially this year because it’s my senior year,” Lauren Louks said. “Even though we lost some good players from last year, we were still able to pull through and win the league title. It was a complete team effort.”
The championship was won as a team and the match against the Eagles showed again why this year’s group has created its own special identity. Much like the Sharks’ season as a whole, the win against Oak Park (7-6, 2-4) was defined by a team effort, as every player who took the court for MHS won at least one set.
Louks led the singles contingent, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-0. Green took two out of three to go 6-3, 7-6(3), 0-6 on her 17th birthday. After losing her first two sets 1-6, 3-6, Lasky rebounded to win the most important set of the day, 6-1.
Despite seeing their 37-set consecutive winning streak come to an end with a 6-2 loss to Oak Park’s Annette Goulak and Irena Yang, Malibu’s No. 1 doubles team of Raven Odian and Rachel Purewal contributed with 6-1 and 6-0 wins.
“We’ve all worked really hard and as a team collectively we’ve all put in our time,” Odian said. “I think we all deserve it. I’m really proud of our team how much we’ve grown. We lost a lot of good players and gained a lot of new ones.”
No. 2 doubles Lisa Consiglio and Elena Clarfield and No. 3 partners Ilana Oleynik and Davis Faherty each won a set (6-0, 6-1, respectively) to complete the scoring.
“We are so lucky to have the strong girls—Lauren, Raven, Rachel and Ilana,” Montgomery said. “But the bottom half of the varsity I’m most proud of for improving and winning crucial sets. Second singles, third singles and third doubles. The season is only eight or 10 weeks and I’ve seen incredible growth from them.”
Malibu, ranked No. 4 in CIF Division III, previously defeated Oak Park 11-7 back on October 1. Most recently, the Sharks had defeated La Reina 12-6 and Oaks Christian, 12-6.
With league play now done, the Sharks’ focus turns to the Tri-Valley League singles and doubles championships on October 29 and 31 at Oak Park High School.
Louks and Oleynik will compete in singles, while Odian and Purewal and Consiglio and Clarfield will line up in doubles.
“There are a lot of good players like Annette and Ilana,” said Louks. “Hopefully I will do well.”
“I’m definitely excited because there will be some good matches,” Odian added. “I’ve been working hard for it. It’s going to be fun.”
Last year Mosser won the singles title, defeating Louks in the final while Odian and Purewal captured the doubles championship.
“I would love to see Malibu vs. Malibu in each final. That would be exciting,” Montgomery said. “But there is very good competition at each school. I love seeing that tournament when all the best players are fighting for it.”
CIF playoffs begin the following week with dates and matchups to be announced on Monday, November 4.