No. 8 Canyon finds way to beat Yorba Linda
ANAHEIM - It might have taken Canyon three years to develop the balance and versatility most often associated with South County powers, but in doing so, the Comanches have progressively asserted themselves as the team to beat north of the I-5.
Playing without the two-time Century League Player of the Year in Amanda Zuidema, No. 8 Canyon (10-0) exhibited its flexibility with an 11-7 nonleague victory over visiting Yorba Linda (7-4) on Wednesday afternoon.
“Today, a lot of girls got to play in spots they don’t normally play,” Comanches coach Wil Wilkins said. “We had the opportunity to play some girls in singles who’ve wanted to play singles, and we did well enough to be successful against a real good team.”
Canyon junior Helena Bui - just one of nine upperclassmen in the starting lineup - took over No. 1 singles duties and swept her three matches, 6-0, 6-0, 6-3.
“We’re going to have to get better to finish league out,” Wilkins said, “and a lot better for (the) C.I.F. (playoffs), but I don’t think there’s anyone we can’t compete with in Division 2.”
In all, Canyon has seven girls who have been starting since their freshman year.
“With the amount of growth I’ve seen over the last three years, I feel like I can play each girl with anyone,” Wilkins said. “They’ve all grown to be able to play those different positions.”
Of the hosts’ five doubles sets, three came from their all-junior No. 3 team of Justine Phillips and Yen-Yee Lim.
Nicole Huizinga (one of three starting seniors) and doubles partner, Lauren Candia, claimed the other two, 6-3, 6-1.
“You can see how close these girls are,” Wilkins said. “All the seniors have been terrific. They’ve been positive, they stay for each match, and they not only get better, but help others get better, too.
“It’s the closest and most fun group of girls I think I’ve ever had ... They’re all genuinely pulling for each other.”
Yorba Linda -- which currently stands atop the Empire League -- got a pair of singles sets from Caitlynn Lowery and doubles sets from Courtney Jacob and Maris Boue.
“This is our third year and we’ve gotten significantly better each year,” Mustangs coach Rey Lejano said. “It’s been neat to see our progress. Now we just have to take the next step and face real good teams like Canyon because that’s what we aspire to be someday.”