|High Desert Tennis Association|
Oliveira cruises into 3rd round
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
VVC freshman can qualify for state with win today
VICTORVILLE — By the time she discarded her warmup pants, Ashley Oliveira was already up 3-0.
As nonchalant as the Victor Valley College freshman looked Thursday, this wasn't the time to mess around, not at her debut in the Southern California Women’s Regional Tennis championships.
Looking comfortable on her home court, Oliveira breezed past Cuyamaca College’s Jovita Sanders 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the third round. A win today against nemesis Anabel Sanchez of Riverside College would put Oliveira in the quarterfinals.
And more important, it would qualify her for the state tournament next week in Aptos. It will be a daunting task against Sanchez, the No. 3 seed at regionals.
In a regular-season matchup earlier this year, Sanchez swept Oliveira without dropping a game.
"She’s just really consistent,” Oliveira said. “She has powerful groundstrokes. She moves you side-to-side. She hits the line, and it’s impossible to get to pretty much."
One potential advantage for Oliveira is her familiarity with those capricious High Desert winds. Against Sanders, the former Sultana standout mixed power and touch masterfully.
Several times Oliveira lofted defensive lobs that landed inches in front of the baseline. She blasted forehands down the line and pounced at the net.
It was all too much for Sanders, who was coming off a three-hour marathon match in the first round earlier in the morning. Her three-set victory over Santa Monica’s Masoki Hashimoto included rallies of more than 45 shots, according to coach Pam Farmer.
Oliveira was one of 24 players who received first-round byes in the 40-player draw.
"I figured she was exhausted,” Oliveira said. “I just tried to move her back and forth."
On the first set point, Oliveira put away a backhand volley. It was part of a streak of seven straight games for Oliveira, including the first five of the second set.
"I was actually very intimidated,” said Sanders, a sophomore who was named the Pacific Coast Conference Player of the Year. “She looked so serious. She was ready."
Her stoic demeanor might have made an impression on the opponent, but it was more for Oliveira’s own benefit.
"If I get myself all worked up and nervous, I usually start screwing up,” she said. “I don't hit my shots. But when I go out there and not think about it, I can do it, just like practice basically."
The mentality disappeared when it came time for doubles play. In a surprising reversal, Oliveira’s trusty arsenal — forehands, lobs, volleys — were ineffective when she teamed with Rosey Reveron against Palomar College’s Taylor Woodbury and Shanthe Mandrayar.