SOUTH PASADENA — About the only two people not giggling near the midway point of Thursday afternoon’s CIF Southern Section Division II first-round playoff match between host Westridge School and Beverly Hills High were Tigers doubles’ players Erin Wong and Erin McDonald.
Westridge’s top doubles’ tandem were let in on the secret, however, a few moments after Wong and McDonald secured the final point of a 6-2 victory over the Normans’ duo of Alex Lee and Nicole Okhman.
The point that came from their victory secured the Tigers their 10th point of the match, and more importantly, the program’s first playoff win in quite some time as ninth-ranked Westridge rolled to a 16-2 victory at the Arroyo Seco Racquet Club.
The Prep League-champion Tigers improved their record to 16-1 with the victory and clinched themselves advancement to the second round at 2 p.m. on Saturday (or Monday, if there is rain) against either eighth-ranked Los Alamitos (13-2) or Temecula Valley (15-2).
“We had no idea that’s the one that won it, but I think it’s better that way,” McDonald said. “It helps keep the nerves down.”
The Tigers really left no room for concern as they opened the match with a 6-0 advantage after the first round and clinched the victory in the second round by winning five of six sets and extending their lead to 11-1.
As expected, the Tigers were led by the strength of their doubles’ play as they finished 9-0.
Wong and McDonald were hardly touched, winning, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.
The most dominant effort, however, came from the second team of Erica Byun and Amanda Matthiessen, who opened with two 6-1 victories before blanking Lee and Okhman, 6-0, in their final set.
“Today we played as a team, which is good to see as we start the playoffs,” Westridge eighth-year Coach Jerry Rivera said. “I think it was the fighting spirit and their ability to work as a team that led us to win.”
The Tigers’ third doubles pair of Eileen Kwan and Emily Trojan were certainly challenged in all three of their sets, including when they fended off Lee and Okhman in the first round, 7-6.
Kwan and Trojan then survived a 7-5 victory over Allison Lee and Megan McMurray before defeating Charlotte Frank and Sheila Farzani, 6-4, in the final set of the day in which they led 3-2, 4-3 and then 5-4.
Beverly Hills’ two points came in singles action, as Victoria Mamatoya won her final singles set of the day, defeating Cameron Marsh 6-0.
Previously, Miriam Binman tallied a 6-1 victory in the second round.
The Tigers’ 1-2 punch of sisters Maral and Lena Tavitian were also dominant, each winning all three of their sets nearly unscathed.
While Lena swept 6-0 in her three sets, Maral dropped a point to Binman, 6-1, while sweeping 6-0 in her other two sets.
Marsh scored Westridge’s final point with a 6-1 win over Paula Alexe.
The playoff victory is believed to be the Tigers’ first in at least a decade, according to Westridge athletic director Melanie Horn.
“I’ve been here eight years and we haven’t ever passed the first round,” Rivera said.
The Tigers earlier won their first league title since 1984, which coupled with this playoff win, has the team brimming with confidence.
“I think we can take it all the way,” Wong said. “That’s our goal.”