Eagles top Mustangs for CIF girls tennis title


The Olympian High School girls tennis team proudly displays its history-making San Diego Section Division III championship banner.

It was a special year for a special group of student-athletes at Olympian High School — and Otay Ranch High School as well.

In what may be a first, two Metro Conference teams competed in the San Diego Section Division III girls tennis championship final last Friday at the Balboa Tennis Club.

Olympian defeated Otay Ranch in a tiebreaker, 64-61 in games, after the teams had tied 9-9 through 18 regulation matches.

The CIF championship game appearance was the first for both teams, and obviously the first division title for Olympian.

Sweetwater Union High School District Coordinator of Athletics Joe Heinz called the history-making occasion a great accomplishment for both the Otay Ranch and Olympian communities.

“Any time we have two Metro Conference schools competing for a CIF Championship, that’s a great thing,” Heinz said.

The tiebreaker outcome was déjà vu for first-year Olympian coach Erik Hur, who coached the previous two years at El Capitan High School in Lakeside.

Last year, El Capitan advanced to the Division II final, losing a tiebreaker to Patrick Henry.

“Getting that close to a championship only to fall a couple games short made me even hungrier and more focused in helping rebuild Olympian’s tennis program,” explained Hur, an Otay Ranch resident.

“The loss was heartbreaking and when I took the Olympian job, the first thing I told my players was that we were going to win the CIF championship this season if they were to buy what I was selling and trust the process. The players thought that I was crazy to have such high goals and aspirations.

“Luckily, I inherited a great group of student-athletes at Olympian. Our captains are our No. 1 singles player, junior Sydney Pilgrim, and our standout doubles player, senior Kate Batoon. They were determined to make sure this year was different than their previous two varsity seasons.”

Soaring Eagles
Olympian only won four matches last year and had not made it out of the first round of the CIF playoffs since 2016. Including this years playoffs, the Eagles finished with a record of 15-6.

Top performers throughout the season included Pilgrim in singles and the doubles teams of Natalia Mendoza/Isabella Montenegro and Batoon/Sophia Lawrence.

The Olympian doubles teams finished first and second, respectively, in this year’s Mesa League championship tournament. Both teams will represent the school in next week’s individual CIF tournament.

Otay Ranch (11-3) earned the top seed in this year’s divisional team draw while Olympian was seeded second.

Otay Ranch defeated 16th-seeded Mission Bay, 11-7, in the opening round while Olympian shut out 15th-seeded Valley Center 18-0.

Moving to the quarterfinals, Otay Ranch eliminated ninth-seeded Fallbrook, 13-5, while Olympian defeated seventh-seeded Calexico 14-4.

In the semifinals, Otay Ranch topped fifth-seeded Rancho Buena Vista, 14-4, while Olympian bested third-seeded Ramona 12-6 as both teams followed similar paths to the final.

Montgomery (eighth seed), San Ysidro (11th seed) and Sweetwater (12th seed) also received seeds in the bracket, though none advanced.

“I am especially proud of our ability to improve throughout the season culminating in avenging two league losses to Otay Ranch in the regular season to beat them by the slimmest of margins in the CIF championship,” Hur said.

The Olympian coach said a few tweaks to the team’s lineup meant everything in the championship round. Pilgrim moved into doubles to give the Eagles the best chance of maximizing their doubles sets, according to Hur.

“Ultimately that proved to be the difference as we were able to get six out of nine doubles sets in the championship,” the Olympian coach noted. “Our players showed tremendous versatility switching back and forth from singles to doubles and vice versa throughout the playoffs depending on the strengths and weaknesses of our opponent.”

A closing 6-0 doubles win by Lawrence and Batoon provided the final margin of victory.

Arianne Pepa and Emely Valencia swept their singles matches for Otay Ranch, with Pepa remaining undefeated in 39 sets on the year.

That this is Olympian’s first ever girls’ tennis CIF championship makes it especially meaningful, Hur emphasized.

“I could not be more proud of this group of student athletes and their dedication, teamwork, resiliency, and coachability in making our first season one to remember forever,” Hur said. “I always had the vision and goals for our team but ultimately it was the group of 13 players on our roster who worked tirelessly despite numerous obstacles to change the fortune of our program and take us to a place Olympian tennis has never been.”


1st place: Arianne Pepa (Otay Ranch), 9
2nd place: Niki Shahbazi (Eastlake), 11
3rd place: Sara Beckman (Mater Dei Catholic), 11
4th place: Arielle Valera (Eastlake), 12
5th place: Emely Valencia (Otay Ranch), 9

1st place: Olympian – Natalia Mendoza (10) )/Isabella Montenegro (12)
2nd place: Olympian – Kate Batoon (12) / Sophia Lawrence (11)
3rd place Bonita Vista – Katelyn Roach (11) / Isabella Fakhimi (12)
4th place:  Bonita Vista – Alexa Fakhimi (10) / Jaime Greeno (12)
5th place: Eastlake – Samantha Valentine (12) / Veronica Ortiz (12)