Justin-Siena girls tennis standout Priyanka Shanker found herself in the Vine Valley Athletic League singles championship match for the second year in a row Thursday, and this time it was her turn to win.
A year after falling to older sister Parvathi in the league final, Shanker pulled out a 6-2, 6-4 win over fellow sophomore Jamie Pope of Vintage at the Napa Valley Tennis Association courts.
“I was really, really nervous today because I know how good Jamie is,” Shanker said after the match. “I started off really well in the first set, but in the second set I lost my focus a little bit.”
After each player broke the other’s serve to even first set at 2-2, Shanker turned on her power game and won four straight games to easily win it.
In the second set, they battled back and forth until the set was tied at 4-4. Shanker broke Pope’s serve to take a 5-4 lead before serving out the match.
“It was great, great tennis out there today. Both girls represented their schools and the sport really well,” said Justin-Siena head coach Jim Reilly. “Priyanka managed to pull it out today, but she was challenged and Jamie is a great runner-up. It was great to watch two girls who put the effort in, the hours and hours of tennis it takes to put on a match like we saw today.
“Priyanka is really athletic and plays cool under pressure. It’s been great to coach her the last two years. We’re just proud as a team that she represents the school and the sport so well. Her upside potential is huge.”
Justin-Siena opens the North Coast Section playoffs on Tuesday, against an opponent to be determined Sunday.
Shanker will play again on Nov. 18 in the NCS Individual Tournament. The Division 1 bracket will be at Mill Valley Tennis Club, and the Division 2 bracket at Napa Valley College.
“I think she has a good chance of going far,” Reilly said, adding, “It was good to have so many people out here today watching the players.”
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