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College of the Canyons women's tennis team photo.

Canyons Women's Tennis Claims 11th Straight Victory

By Marco Preciado/COC Sports Information

College of the Canyons hosted its final home match vs. Bakersfield College on Thursday, with the crowds that gathered to watch treated with an edge-of-your-seat final singles match to decide the victor.

COC sophomore Lauren Hannah went into a tie-breaker with Tara Bashirstash that ultimately allowed the Cougars to take home the victory with a 5-4 final score. The win marked the 11th straight for Canyons.

"I thought I had it in the beginning, and then all of a sudden (Bashirstash) picked up a little bit. (Bakersfield) was a lot better than last time," said Hannah about the decisive match. 

Canyons went 1-for-2 in doubles action (8-1, 7-9, 8-2). Cougars' duo Ashley Villarta and Lexi Paunovic dueled Krista Dumatrait and Stephanie Mercado of Bakersfield for an 8-1 doubles victory. A doubles win from duo Lauren Neal and Hannah Heiber put the Cougars ahead 2-1 before singles matches began.

Villarta added another point for Canyons fron the No. 1 singles position with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph. 

Paunovic prevailed from the No. 2 position, winning 6-0, 6-2, and from the No. 5 spot Hannah successfully claimed victory in a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 affair for the Cougars.   

"My palms were sweating, and I was so nervous the entire time," said COC asisstant coach Proyfon Lohaphaisan. "I'm really happy that the girls were able to pull through as a team and rely on each other.

"Seeing them wanting to rush and cheer for their teammates at the very end is a really good feeling," added Lohaphaisan. 

Canyons clinched the program's first Western State Conference (WSC) Championship on Tuesday with an 8-1 home win over Antelope Valley College. 

Thursday's match marked the final regular season home game of the year, with several student-athletes planning to transfer to four-year schools at the end of the semester.

"This is my first and only season (at COC), and it's been good," said freshman Lauren Neal. "Winning conference this week, the practices, and just the little things. I'm going to miss it."

"I made a lot of friends, and I'm going to miss them," said Hannah, who is also planing to transfer ast year's end. "You can play with just anyone, but the friendship that you make won't be the same."

Canyons (12-2, 11-0) will play its final regular season match on Tuesday, March 22, at Glendale College. Action is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

As a conference champion, COC will also compete in the 2022 CCCAA SoCal Regionals with those brackets and match locations still to be determined.

Full results from Thursday's match are below:

Doubles

  1. Ashley Villarta/Lexi Paunovic (COC) defeats Krista Dumatrait/Stephane Mercado (BC) — 8-1
  2. Jennifer Russell/Lauren Hannah (COC) loses to Hannah Purvis/Reily Herndon (BC) — 7-9
  3. Lauren Neal/Hannah Heiber (COC) defeats Aleah Cisneros/Nelly Guadamuz (BC) — 8-2

Singles

  1. Ashley Villarta (COC) defeats Stephanie Mercado (BC) — 6-2, 7-5
  2. Lexi Paunovic (COC) defeats Krista Dumatrait (BC) — 6-0, 6-2
  3. Jennifer Russell (COC) loses to Hannah Purvis (BC) — 5-7, 2-6
  4. Lauren Neal (COC) loses to Reilly Herndon (BC) — 7-5, 0-6, 2-6
  5. Lauren Hannah (COC) defeats Tara Bashirstash (BC) — 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-4
  6. Alexis Mirzayan (COC) loses to Aleah Cisneros (BC) — 4-6, 4-6

Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on TwitterInstagramFacebook and YouTube

—Photo by Kyle Kawamoto/COC Sports Information