By Bill Tamburrino
Ramona High School tennis player Jessica Failla won the CIF individual championship in tennis last weekend.
Her championship tops a list of historic accomplishments by the Bulldog girls varsity tennis team this season.
Stating he was proud of all the girls, Coach Matt McCormick listed their accomplishments: a Valley League championship, CIF Quarterfinals finish within a set of advancing to the semifinals (best team finish ever), a Valley League singles champion, third and fifth place in singles, second and third place Valley League doubles teams, seven girls advancing to the CIF tournament, two doubles teams making it to the Round of 32 of the CIF tournament (best doubles finish ever), and having Failla win the girls varsity tennis championship (best singles finish ever).
Failla is the third member of her family to win a CIF individual championship in tennis.
She breezed through the 80-player tournament without losing a set. She only gave up 15 games and never lost a set the entire season.
Failla had the No. 1 seed and opened the tournament by beating Mati Thomas of Francis Parker 6-2 and 6-0 on Nov. 14. She then came right back to beat Skylar Schaar of Fallbrook 6-1 and 6-2.
She returned to the Barnes Tennis Center on Friday, Nov. 15, to beat Emily Kua of La Jolla 6-0 and 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and then triumphed over Graciela Rosas from Vincent Memorial in the semifinals 6-2 and 6-3.
In the finals, Failla dominated play and won the championship by beating Kelsey Chen of Torrey Pines 6-1 and 6-1.
“Coaching Jessica through her CIF Championship run was one of the most exciting and moving experiences I have had in coaching. Jessica had one of the most dominant runs of any girls high school tennis player in San Diego. The coolest thing about Jessica is that she has an incredibly sweet personality, responds to coaching and takes it to another level, and dominates and battles on every point of the match. It was great to see Jessica take the pictures at the end with her mom and dad, three San Diego CIF tennis champions together — the way it should be, said McCormick after Failla won the championship.
Her dad, Greg, won the only individual championship in tennis at RHS in 1985, and her mom, Katrina, won the female individual crown in 1984. However, the RHS junior didn’t feel any pressure to keep up the family tradition.
“They both just told me to go out and play my game and that is what I did,” she said.
Failla admitted to being a little superstitious, saying, “I ate at Quiznos before the first day of the tournament and I played well so I ate there all three days. Same food and same drinks. It worked.”
She said the most rewarding aspect of playing tennis at Ramona High this year was “Winning. Being able to help the team win the Valley League championship was very rewarding.”
McCormick had praise for his players after the CIF tournament: “Caroline Lopresti and Megan Douglass fought hard in their matches and should be commended for their excellent performances and seasons. Lauren Dunker and Rebecca Vaca dominated their first two opponents and battled tough against a No. 8-seeded Torrey Pines team that went all the way to the semifinals. Cassidy Owens and Danielle Vizcarra trounced their first round opponent and played their best tennis of the season in winning an incredibly tough second round match against a very good team from Point Loma. Owens and Vizcarra continued their great run into their match against the No. 3 seeds and were tied at 2-2 and almost got to 3-3 before the highly-ranked Popa/Ross pulled away. Dunker, Vaca, Owens and Vizcarra made history by going farther than any Lady Bulldog doubles teams have.”
The coach also had many to thank.
“I want to thank Carye Dunker our team mom; Kim Owens, banquet chairwoman; all of the parents who helped drive the girls to matches; Damon Baldwin, the best athletic director a coach could want; the
for the awesome coverage; and all of the friends and family members who came out to support our girls. This has been the most awesome girls team I have ever coached and I will never forget what this team accomplished and how hard they worked to make it happen.”
Expressing her gratitude, Failla said, “Please thank all of the people who supported me at the CIF tournament: my parents and grandparents, and all of the people who came out to support me. I have been blessed and I thank God for that.”
The high school junior has committed to play tennis for the University of Southern California.