The Highlanders ended their team season on November 16, falling to eventual-champion Lick-Wilmerding-San Francisco in the North Coast Section Division 2 semifinals, 5-2.
The NCS individual championships continue this week. The Highlanders’ doubles team of Emily Becker and Audrey Call is competing.
Piedmont finished the year 14-10-2. The Highlanders advanced to the same round of the NCS team championships as they did a year ago (when the final two rounds were canceled due to the wildfires in the Bay Area). Piedmont had won five consecutive team championships prior to last year.
Highlanders’ coach Jim Landes was ecstatic with how his team performed this year. Piedmont graduated seven of its top 12 players a year ago.
“Finishing in the semifinals of NCS, I had really no expectations doing that early in the season,” Landes said. “I was wondering if we would even get to the quarterfinals of NCS.”
The Highlanders opened the NCS tournament on November 12, defeating Albamy at home in the first round, 6-1. Becker dropped the No. 1 singles match to Yoonji Chon, 6-2, 6-3. Piedmont swept the rest of the matches.
Audrey Edel won at No. 2 singles over Sophia Uskov, 6-3, 6-2. Bridgette McEfee beat Mira Knowles at No. 3, 6-0, 6-1. In the best singles match of the day, Hannah Ferguson outlasted Jade Blue at No. 4, 5-7, 6-4, 10-7.
The Highlanders swept the doubles matches, dropping a total of eight games in six sets.
In the second round, Piedmont hosted Bishop O’Dowd in a match postponed due to weather on November 15. The Highlanders defeated the Dragons, 4-3, repeating the score from an earlier match and again avenging a 1-6 loss at the beginning of the season. Edel was the only Piedmont player to win a singles match, defeating Georgia Bunkers, 7-5, 7-6 (6). That was just enough as the Highlanders swept the doubles again.
Marlowe McEfee and Call teamed to beat Ava Murphy and Jenny Cheng in the No. 1 match, 6-2, 6-3. Lily Orta and Amanda Becker won at No. 2 over Alexa Allred and Marianne Taner, 6-3, 6-2. Austen Elvekrog and Maddie Young won the No. 3 over Isi Szuhaj and Cecily Hayes, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The semifinals and finals were held at the Bay Club in San Francisco on November 16. Top-seeded Lick-Wilmerding won, 5-2, before going on to defeat Head Royce for the championship, 4-3.
Piedmont’s wins against the Tigers came in doubles. The No. 1 team of Call and McEfee beat Emily Seo and Ingrid Sigfstead, 6-1, 6-2. The Highlanders’ No. 2 team of Orta and Amanda Becker downed Julia Shaw and Annelise Fisher, 6-1, 6-2.
The No. 3 doubles match was a tight one, with the Tigers’ Emma Shaw and Charlotte Abbe beat Elvekrog and Young, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 7-5.
Lick-Wilmerding’s Olive Maunupau beat Emily Becker in the No. 1 singles match, 6-0, 6-1. Bridgette McEfee battled Callie Tzab through three sets before falling, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0.
“In a certain way this season is more satisfying because I feel like the coaching is probably more important,” Landes said of the achievements of this year’s squad. “It gets you over some humps. When you have a lot of talent like Makenna (Thiel) and Angela (Huang) – both on last year’s team -, they’re going to win. There’s not much coaching you can do there.”
“Bridgette (McEfee) wasn’t even a starter last year. She was playing all the way up at No. 3 singles this year. And to see Audrey Edel’s improvement to play No. 2 (singles), where she played doubles all (last) year. That was great.”
Photos by Brian Mahany