Schaar reaches round of 16, DuPont/Rogers advance to round of 32

Fallbrook High School senior Skyler Schaar reached the round of 16 in the CIF individual tennis tournament before a Nov. 14 loss to top seed and eventual champion Jessica Failla of Ramona while the Fallbrook doubles team of junior Rebecca DuPont and freshman Raquelle Rogers won their first two matches before being eliminated by a higher-seeded Bishop’s duo in the round of 32.

“I’m just very proud of the girls,” said Fallbrook coach Dave Ramirez.

Schaar was seeded ninth in the singles tournament to earn a bye in the first two rounds. Rogers and DuPont were seeded 17th and began play with two matches Nov. 13. They opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-3 win over their Scripps Ranch opposition and followed that with a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Kyra Ayala and Amanda DiGiovanni of Valhalla.

The 13th-seeded Bishop’s High School duo of Jennifer Richards and Emily Olson took a 6-2, 6-3 win Nov. 14 against DuPont and Rogers. DuPont and Rogers won the first game before Richards and Olson captured the next four games of the first set. The Bishop’s partners won the first four games of the second set, but DuPont and Rogers won the next two games and took their third game when Richards and Olson had a 5-2 lead.

“They both played really well,” Richards said of the Fallbrook opposition.

“We had some really good points and a ton of deuce games,” Olson said. “Much closer than what the score said.”

“It was a good match,” Rogers said. “We both played really well.”

The trip to the CIF tournament was the first for DuPont as well as the first for the freshman. “We just had the best season, I think,” Rogers said. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

DuPont and Rogers both took tennis lessons at the San Luis Rey Downs courts and have been friends since they were attending Bonsall Elementary School.

“We had a great team,” DuPont said. “Had a really solid record.”

During the 2013 season DuPont and Rogers were 36-8 as a doubles team. They placed third in the Avocado West League tournament. “I couldn’t ask for a better season,” Rogers said. “I wouldn’t want any other partner.”

“I think they played very well this tournament,” Ramirez said.

Schaar opened play Nov. 14 with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Poway High School freshman Frances Cornwall.

“She struggled a little bit,” Ramirez said.

Schaar won the first three games of the first set before Cornwall won the ensuing two games. Schaar closed out the first set by winning the final three games.

In the second set Schaar won the first game before Cornwall took a 2-1 lead. Schaar won the next four games, but Cornwall turned that 5-2 margin into a 5-4 score. In the set’s 10th game Schaar had a 30-0 lead, Cornwall came back to hold the advantage on game point, and Schaar finished the match by winning the next three points.

“I was happy that I pulled out the win. I kind of won ugly,” Schaar said.

“She’s a good finisher,” Ramirez said.

“That was just the determination of will,” Ramirez said. “She persevered because of her willpower.”

“It was a good match. It was fun even though I lost,” Cornwall said. “We both played really well.”

Cornwall is ranked 38th among Girls 14 (and under) players in Southern California.

Schaar was third in the Avocado West League individual tournament. Failla won the Valley League championship, making her the first Ramona girl ever to win an individual league championship.

Failla’s CIF title made her the second Ramona High School player of either gender to win a CIF singles championship. The other, 1985 boys champion Greg Failla, is her father. He married Katrina Crawford, who won the 1984 girls CIF championship with Valhalla. Greg Failla is now the tennis pro at San Diego Country Estates and his wife is also an instructor there. Ramona High School has also won a boys doubles championship; Greg Failla’s brother Doug, who now teaches at the Rancho Valencia Spa and Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, was one of those 1985 players.

Jessica Failla is a Ramona High School junior who has given a verbal commitment to play tennis at the University of Southern California. The 2013 season was her first playing high school tennis and her first at Ramona High School; she spent ninth grade at the Mountain Valley Academy independent study school and utilized an on-line school as a sophomore.

Although Failla had never previously faced Schaar, Failla has practiced against Monica Robinson, who is currently on Notre Dame’s tennis team but competed for Fallbrook in 2009, 2011, and 2012. Failla was thus somewhat familiar with Ramirez, who is the Fallbrook Tennis Club pro as well as the Warriors’ coach.

Failla won all but the fourth of the seven games in the 6-1 first set. She also won the first three games of the second set before Schaar created a 3-1 result. Failla won the next two games, Schaar took a game to narrow the score to 5-2, and Failla then won the game, set, and 6-1, 6-2 match.

“That was a solid match,” Ramirez said.

“It was just a great match. I thought Jessica performed really well. Her opponent was also a very good player,” said Ramona coach Matt McCormick. “I was really pleased with the outcome.”

“I thought I played really well. I don’t think I’m subjected to this level of play as much as I should be,” Schaar said. “I’m happy with how I played, but obviously it was a tough loss.”

Failla had beaten Mati Thomas of Francis Parker by a 6-2, 6-0 score in her earlier match that day.

“I felt like I played really well and improved from my first match,” Failla said. “I just fought my hardest, did my best.”

Failla’s match against Thomas took approximately an hour. Schaar’s victory over Cornwall was a two-hour contest, giving Failla a break of nearly two hours compared to Schaar’s 45-minute break between matches.

“That last match was her best match. She played solid,” Ramirez said of Schaar. “I like the way she stepped up. I like the way she took the initiative. She just didn’t sustain it for a long period of time.”

“I thought I fought well, played pretty well,” Schaar said.

“She wasn’t afraid of the number one girl,” Ramirez said.

“She was feisty. She fought hard and she followed direction, which was kind of nice,” Ramirez said. “I asked her to implement some strategy and some structure, and she did really well.”

Although Schaar has not yet signed a college letter of intent, she and the Montana State University program have shown interest in each other.

Schaar expressed her appreciation to Ramirez, to her teammates, and to her parents for their roles in her success. “I was very happy with the overall result,” Schaar said. “Overall I thought it was a good season for me.”

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