YUCCA VALLEY — After the Yucca Valley High School Trojan girls tennis team lost to the Coachella Valley Arabs in the first match of the season, Trojan head coach Cindy Miller made a prediction: “We’ll get them back at our house.” She was right.
The Trojans took a share of first place in the Desert Valley League with a victory against the Arabs Thursday afternoon.
“We needed this one,” Miller said after the win.
In the first year of the Desert Valley League’s existence, the Trojans and Arabs were co-champions. Last year, the Arabs won the title alone. This year, it’s possible they’ll be co-champs again. Both teams have beaten every other school in the league once. They just have to do it again in the next few weeks.
The Trojans’ win Thursday didn’t come easily. At the end of round one, Yucca Valley was ahead 4-2, but Coachella pulled ahead to tie it up 6-6 in the second round.
It came down to three singles and three doubles battles. Every game was crucial.
“You’ve got this. You guys are playing awesome,” Miller told Rachelle Henriquez and Kennia Torres in between doubles games. “Play your game.”
Coachella Valley surged past the two girls and Miller was visibly upset at their disappointment. “You gave your all! I’m proud of you guys!” she told them.
One court over, Rylie Rohr and Mckenzi Monical were playing like the sure things they almost always are.
When the doubles teams left the court, Yucca Valley was up 7-4 with two singles players still on the court but falling behind. The Trojan coaches and fans were furiously doing math on the sidelines, calculating how many points each game was worth and who would win if the teams tied in sets.
When it happened, both Trojan players falling to Coachella’s strong singles game, Miller and assistant coach Derrick Le carefully counted points one more time. The excited whispers started passing from girl to girl: “We won!”
Tied 9-9 in sets, the Trojans had come ahead 71-67 in points.
But there was one more hurdle; Coachella Valley head coach Tho Duong didn’t seem to agree with the numbers. Instead of the “good game” final handshakes, Miller and Duong huddled together, closely flanked by their teams, as they compared records and added the points from every game together.
After going over each game, Duong nodded briskly. “So you win by four. Just checking.”
“They battled,” Miller said as the girls celebrated.
“We lost to them twice last year and we lost 7-11 in the first match, but through working out, conditioning and hours of drills, we got the win,” she said. “Hours of practice counts.”
The Trojan doubles teams were strong as ever, with Monical and Rohr going 6-3, 6-0, 6-1. Alex Costa and Jayda Henry lost 3-6 but rallied back for 6-0, 6-1 wins. Henriquez and Torres went 1-6, 0-6, 6-0.
Against Coachella’s famously strong singes, Abby Aubuchon went 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, Eden Ricketts picked up points for the Trojans going 0-6, 1-6, 6-3 and Mckayla Henry went 3-6, 6-9, 6-1.The round-two set was a tie-breaker where Henry was down 2-5 and fought back to nearly win.
“She played really well. She battled,” Miller said. “She’s got no reason to hang her head. She did awesome.”
Now Yucca Valley just has to win every one of six matches in the next three weeks. They start next week by traveling to Banning Tuesday, then hosting Indio Thursday. Game times are 3:15 p.m.