Open and Shut

Pali High Girls Tennis Captures Fifth Straight City Crown  

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

The opponent was different, but the result was the same for the Palisades High girls tennis team on Tuesday afternoon at  Balboa Sports Center in Encino.

The top-seeded Dolphins won their fifth consecutive City Section championship—and became the first Open Division winners—with a 7-0 shutout of second-seeded Cleveland from Reseda. The previous six finals pitted Palisades against Granada Hills, with the Dolphins winning the last four, so it was refreshing for the Dolphins to face a new team this year in the culmination of a new “Final Four” format. Palisades had defeated another West Valley League team, El Camino Real, by the same score in the semifinals last Thursday at the Palisades Recreation Center.   

Caroline Ross hits a backhand in her win at No. 1 doubles.
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Taking charge of the finals were twins Ireland and Sophia Amato, who helped the Dolphins capture their third straight title as freshmen two years ago, led their hometown team in Pennsylvania to its first-ever state semifinal appearance last fall and returned to Palisades for their junior year.

“It’s exciting to finally get a chance to lead the team,” Ireland said after beating Cleveland’s Amy Chen, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 1 singles. “Tennis is harder in LA but we like to play better players.”   

Kalea Martin lines up a forehand in her win at No. 3 doubles.
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

“It was more on our backs this time,” added Sophia, a 7-5, 6-0 winner at No. 2 singles over Cavaliers freshman Victoria Kaplan. “The season wouldn’t be complete without winning this.”   

Freshman Noe Winter ousted senior Sophia Sands, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 3 singles and Sophia Arvin prevailed, 6-1, 6-0, over Cleveland’s Elizabeth Kaplan in a battle of sophomores at the No. 4 spot.

The Dolphins (25-3) were equally dominant in doubles versus Cleveland, which fell to 13-2.   

Juniors Alex Miller and Caroline Ross paired to win, 6-1, 6-2, at the No. 1 position, senior co-captain Maddy Goore and freshman Halsey Hulse triumphed, 6-3, 6-0, at No. 2 and freshman Kalea Martin joined junior Gigi Feingold to win 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 3 doubles.   

It was the 25th City title for the Dolphins and their 18th under Coach Bud Kling, who has amassed 1,174 career wins (boys and girls) since 1979 and needs 49 more to break the national record.

“We have depth, which makes for great practices,” Kling said. “We had five new starters, but they came through when it counted.  It’s the best group of parents I’ve had in over 40 years of coaching.”