From the moment the first ball was struck there was little doubt which team would win Friday's match. The only question was whether or not Westchester High could become the third team to earn a point off of frontrunning Palisades.
The answer was a resounding "No."
Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies and Hamilton each managed to win one point at the No. 1 singles position against the Dolphins, but Venice and University had been vanquished 7-0 and so too were the Comets at the .
Getting their chance to play varsity for Palisades were Alex Genina and JV captain Emily Goore, who made the most of their opportunity with an 8-2 victory at No. 3 doubles.
"This is another one of those matches where I made some lineup changes," Dolphins Coach Sean Passan said. "I switched things around in doubles and sat my No. 1 team."
That would be senior co-captain Perri Zaret and sophomore Julie Takakjian, who have not lost a set together all season.
"I always love to play and contribute to the victory, but today was a chance to watch everyone else and support them," Zaret said. "Our team is so deep that we're able to get the younger players some sets and still win."
One shining example of that is freshman Honour Norman, who is gaining valuable varsity experience this season. As she had in Palisades' previous match against University, Norman played No. 4 singles and again she won easily, 8-1. With each successive match the ninth grader is getting more and more comfortable on the court.
"Playing varsity is really beneficial to my game," Norman said. "I feel a lot less nervous now. I'm much more confident with the way I'm playing."
Freshman Jesse Zand and junior Katie Pfannkuche were the first to finish Friday, winning 8-0 at No. 1 doubles. Co-captain Emily Wettleson and Melody Wilkenfeld won 8-1 at No. 2 doubles, just as they had four days earlier against University.
Ninth-grader Diana Silvers, who is still only 13, beat Westchester's top singles player Serina Rowland 8-1. With a year left in the 14s age division, Silvers was set to play in the J.P. Yamasaki Junior Open in Whittier on Saturday.
"It was interesting," Silvers said of her pro set against Rowland. "She's a strong player and I just had to be consistent because after three or four balls she would miss it."
One of Silvers' best friends is Palisadian Ilana Oleynik, the No. 1 player at Malibu High. The two met at a tournament in sixth grade and have been hitting partners ever since. Both girls went to .
"I tried to convince her to come to Pali because I know she's really good," Silvers said of Oleynik, a 14-year-old ranked in the top 50 in Southern California in the 16s. "We practice together and play in many of the same tournaments."
Sophomore Katie Vincent admitted she was on auto pilot for much of her pro set against Comets' No. 2 player Tasha Saengo, building a quick 7-1 lead. Saengo took the next game before Vincent ended it.
"I wasn't really paying attention until the last game," said Vincent, who played No. 4 singles most of her freshman year. "She hit some lobs that made me hesitate for a second. I really don't think of what number I'm playing ... it doesn't really matter."
The only singles player not to drop a game was senior Jessie Corneli, who overcame several double faults in her first service game and went on to an 8-0 victory over the Comets' No. 3 player Lauren Culbertson. Corneli, a varsity singles player since she was a freshman, improved to 8-2 this season.
"My serve was off today," said Corneli, who is hoping to secure a fourth consecutive berth in the City Individual tournament. "It wasn't the sun, I wear a visor. I kept double faulting, which is unusual for me because my serve is normally one of my biggest strengths."
Corneli has played all four singles positions throughout her high school career and even though this is her last season she is willing to play anywhere if it gives the Dolphins a better chance to win.
"I'll do whatever is best for the team," she said.
Palisades' two matches with Fairfax were rained out (the first Sept. 30 and the second Oct. 5) and while Passan would much prefer to make up both, the more likely scenario is that the teams will play one time and count the result twice. The last-place Lions are the only league opponent the Dolphins have yet to face.
"We're looking at possibly playing Monday, because we already have three matches the following week," Passan said. "Another issue is where to play. Hopefully I can convince them to come here."
Palisades 7, Westchester 0
(1) Diana Silvers, Palisades, d. Serina Rowland, 8-1.
(2) Katie Vincent, Palisades, d. Tasha Saengo, 8-2.
(3) Jessie Corneli, Palisades, d. Lauren Culbertson, 8-0.
(4) Honour Norman, Palisades, d. Nicole Wianecki, 8-1.
(1) Jesse Zand-Katie Pfannkuche, Palisades, d. Kauai Taylor-Eryn Jones, 8-0.
(2) Emily Wettleson-Melody Wilkenfeld, Palisades, d. Jacqueline Ross-Faline Chiang, 8-1.
(3) Alex Genina-Emily Goore, Palisades, d. Farhana Ali-Swiss Jantaranima, 8-2.
Records: Westchester 5-3, 4-2; Palisades 6-0-1, 5-0.