Throughout four days of action, Richard Goldenson repeatedly glanced at his watch in awed disbelief.
The Santa Monica College coach has watched a lot of women’s tennis over the years, and he was particularly impressed by freshman Mayra Jovic — not only because of the success she had last weekend, but how she earned it.
“All her matches were like an hour long,” Richardson said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Jovic powered her way through the California Community College Athletic Association state tournament, seizing the singles title, winning the doubles championship with teammate Izabel Nazdracheva and leading the Corsairs to a team crown April 23-26 in Ojai.
Jovic became the first female tennis player in SMC history to win state singles and doubles titles and the school’s first singles champion since Katerina Mozolyuk in 2011.
The West Hills product played multiple matches per day as she blitzed through the singles bracket, defeating Cabrillo’s Paula Cenusa 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals before topping Shasta’s Chieko Yamada 6-1, 6-2 in the title match.
“To me it means that all the hard work I did paid off,” Jovic said. “Waking up at 6 a.m. every day, playing four matches a day and being in so much pain was all worth it. I loved being able to represent my school and make my parents proud.”
It remains to be seen whether Jovic will return to defend her title next year — as of Wednesday, she was waiting to hear back from the NCAA about her transfer eligibility.
If she leaves Santa Monica, she’ll do so in historic fashion considering she didn’t lose a set the entire season.
In the state doubles bracket, she and Nazdracheva won 72 of their 88 games en route to capturing the CCCAA title.
They dispatched Glendale’s Brigitta Benitez and Meredy Gharabegi 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, ousted College of the Desert’s Laura Arruda and Leticia Dos Santos 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals and topped De Anza’s Polina Gorshinina and Van Nguyen 6-2, 7-5 to take first place.
“(Nazdracheva) was on fire in doubles,” Goldenson said. “She was playing flawless doubles. She had a few hiccups in the finals, but in the last few games she dug deep and hit some amazing shots. I’m really proud of her.”
The Corsairs have reached the state finals in doubles in four of the last six seasons, winning in 2011 and this year.
Jovic and Nazdracheva figure to extend the program’s streak of representation on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All-America team.
Past honorees in singles include Mary Katherine Ashmore (2014), Carmel Peterson (2013), Criss Rodriguez (2012), Mozolyuk (2011) and Anastasia Eliseeva (2010).
Previous SMC doubles All-Americans include Jessica Goldbeck and Kaoria Tsuda (2014), Tsuda and Juliana Nelkin (2013), Rodriguez and Nelkin (2012), Rodriguez and Krystal Hansard (2011) and Eliseeva and Tiana Lauritzen (2010).
Goldenson said Jovic seamlessly transitioned between singles and doubles as she approached state triumphs on both courts.
“I was worried because on Saturday she started to slow down, but on Sunday she kicked it into overdrive and was dominating,” he said. “The more tired she got, the stronger she played.”
Photo (credit Dave Loveton / SBCC Athletics): Mayra Jovic won singles and doubles titles at the CCCAA state tournament and led the Santa Monica College women’s tennis team to first place.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, email@example.com or on Twitter.