"This is really incredible," said Alex Koeberle, Sage Hill's senior captain. "Cate is a well-known and perennial power. So, to pull this out by one game on our home court, I feel, shows a lot of character and the growth in this team."
The result and final moments of Tuesday' match amplified Sage Hill's emotional momentum before going into the semifinal round.
The same emotionally charged effort will need to be on display in the next round as Sage Hill will play Rowland High which beat three-time defending CIF champion Cerritos High, Tuesday to advance to the semifinals. The Lightning lost to Cerritos in last year's semifinals after it came down to games.
Sage Hill will face Rowland Tuesday at The Tennis Club in Newport Beach.
Against No. 2-seeded Cate, with all but one set finished and Sage Hill (10-10) trailing the Rams (13-6) by one, it came down to the Lightning doubles team of Robbe Simon and Sean Batten. The set, however, would not come easy. With every point came a cheer from every teammate. With every winner came a grunt or a fist pump from Simon and Batten. Wrapped up in the set but not aware of its importance, the two put everything on the line and battled to a 7-5 victory that ended up being the quarterfinal-winning set.
"Well, I definitely did not know that we were that close," said Simon, a sophomore, "so I was pretty calm. But when we walked off the court someone told me we won by one game. I had no idea. I'm still surprised."