Standout Tehachapi High School tennis player Catrina Hibbard recently finished a successful run in the South Yosemite League individual singles championship, taking third place overall among a field that featured some of the top players in the Central Section.
Hibbard earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season with a 15-2 record in singles with the Lady Warriors. On the first day of the championships, Hibbard easily dispatched an opponent from West (6-0, 6-0) and Ridgeview (6-1, 6-0), before falling in her semifinal match against her Bakersfield Christian opponent, 6-2, 6-3.
Despite the loss, Hibbard was able to bounce back in the third place match against another opponent from Bakersfield Christian, winning 6-3, 6-2.
“I was happy the way I played against (my last opponent) from BCHS,” said Hibbard. “My game has improved from last year by improving my serve and overheads while (getting more pace) on my ground strokes.”
Hibbard, who is a junior, currently has a record of 25-6 overall in singles and doubles combined on the season, while sporting an impressive 18-3 mark in singles.
“Catrina is an amazing tennis player, she has a natural gift for the game and I could always count on her to work hard and never give up,” said THS head coach Serena West. “Her scores speak for themselves when it comes to her talent. She also has a kind and likeable personality and she had the other teams cheering for her.”
That cheering was on full display at the SYL finals, when other teams in the league were holding up handmade signs and cheering for Catrina, who although short in stature (she is only 4 foot, 11 inches), is one of the most talented players in the valley.
“That really does speak to what Catrina is all about. She may be small and she might not have power in her shots but she fights hard and works hard,” said Bear Valley Tennis Pro Rick Lund, who coaches Catrina in the off-season. “She puts in the time and dedication to the game. It could be sub-40 degree weather out in Bear Valley in the dead of winter, but she comes out and takes lessons and participates in drills. She also travels to tournaments, playing in multiple states during the summer. She does not quit and she has a strong drive. That certainly makes us all proud of her.”
Hibbard’s season will continue in the CIF Central Section South Area Tournament, set to be held this weekend at Garces Memorial High School. The full bracket and Hibbard’s draw in the tournament will be posted on cifcstennis.org on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.