QUARTZ HILL — The Quartz Hill girls tennis team was tied after the first round of play against Alemany in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs on Wednesday.
In the second round, however, the Rebels calmed their nerves and went on to defeat Alemany 13-5 to move on to the second round on Friday.
“I’m really excited,” Quartz Hill singles player Katelyn Abaied said. “I was nervous because they had some really strong players. … I’m really glad that we got this win. It helps the team morale.”
After a 3-3 tie during the first round of sets, Alemany won just two more sets.
“There were nerves out there today,” Quartz Hill coach Liz Litchfield said. “Our second round, they obviously were more relaxed. They just went out and everyone just started dialing in and playing their game.”
Quartz Hill won eight of nine doubles sets to take the lead.
The Rebels’ No. 1 doubles team of Taylor Heckenliable and Semma Hadaya, who never lost a set in Golden League regular season play this year, picked up a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 sweep.
The No. 2 team of Eliza Lopez and Audrey Limb also swept, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
“My line two doubles are starting to talk,” Litchfield said. “I saw them do things that were just so great.”
In their second match of the day, Quartz Hill’s No. 3 doubles team of Emma Abaied and Nassim Tavakoli found themselves mired in a tiebreaker. As their match went on, all of the other players from both teams gathered outside the gate by their court and cheered them on. Abaied and Tavakoli won the set 7-6 (9-7).
The win put the Rebels up 8-4 going into the third round.
“That win was a big win,” said Katelyn, Emma’s older sister. “I’m really proud of the team. They showed a lot of support.”
Emma Abaied closed out the victory with a winner down the left line.
“She just hit it in the open court and I was like, ‘So smart!’” Litchfield said.
Emma Abaied teamed up with Naia Smithley in the final set and they won 6-4.
Alemany had a solid singles player in Isabel Cosculluela, who swept her three sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.
Quartz Hill’s No. 1 singles player Katelyn Abaied fought hard against Cosculluela in the 7-5 set.
“When I played their No. 1, she gave me a hard time,” Katelyn said. “Actually, it was a lot of fun playing her. She had amazing putaways and it was just a lot of fun playing her.
“Her serves were amazing. They were just so fast and she could control it.”
Quartz Hill’s No. 2 singles player Riley Johnson also fought against Cosculluela and her tough serve in a 6-3 loss.
“Their No. 1 was really good competition,” Johnson said. “Her serves were gnarly. That was definitely a challenge.”
But both of the Rebels’ top players won two sets apiece.
Katelyn Abaied won her next two sets, 6-2, 6-0.
“I was at ease, I guess,” Katelyn said. “I was happy with how I played in my first set and I wasn’t frustrated, so I knew that if I did that well in the first set, I’ve got the next two.”
Johnson won her first set, 6-0, and her final set, 6-3, hitting a solid winner down the right line.
“That felt good, I definitely didn’t think I was going to get that one,” Johnson said. “When I got it, I was like, ‘Yes!’”
Quartz Hill’s Hanna Hoang also won a 6-0 set.
The Rebels will have another home match on Friday as Culver City defeated Burroughs (Ridgecrest) 13-5 on Wednesday.
“It’s awesome to go on with my team,” Johnson said. “I love them all and it’s just so to be experiencing this.”
The Rebels, who won their 30th straight undefeated Golden League title this season, know what they need to do to keep moving on in the playoffs.
“Just play our game and try not to add some spice to it,” Katelyn Abaied said. “There are some teams who add some spice to it and it doesn’t work in their favor. You can’t beat someone by playing their game. You’ve got to play your game to beat them.”
Added Johnson: “Pull together and don’t lose it, just keep a cool head. Because I know I, personally, lose points whenever I get really hotheaded. My game starts to fall apart.”