Najera wins tennis State Championship

Mesa’s Sophia Najera captured the women’s state singles tennis title in Ojai, Calif. (Photo courtesy of

Thomas Frey, Sports Editor

Mesa women’s tennis player Sophia Najera went through a tough set of matches to take the state singles title in Ojai, Calif., on April 27 .

Maya Mammetgulyeva of Fresno City College was the opponent.

“I knew it was going to be a difficult match, I saw Maya play her earlier matches. I went in there with a game plan and stuck to it,” said Najera.

Najera won the first set while Mammetgulyeva won the second to send it to the decisive third set. Najera went down 2-0 but won six straight games to win the third set 6-2 and win the championship 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

“I lost the first two games to go down 2-0 but as both the men’s and women’s teams say before we start, ‘From the first point we fight to the last point we fight.’ I played smart and got the next six games to take the title as state champion,” said Najera.

Najera is only a freshman and really led the Olympians to an 11-6 record after starting this season 0-5 while Najera was out with an injury.

“Once I got the okay to play to my fullest it was on, we won the next matches but it was not just me that got it together, we did it as a team and thats what we will continue to do,” said Najera.

Her run as a state champion almost didn’t happen due to a draw with the state’s top rated player in the round of 16. Najera lost a tough first set 6-4. “As a tennis player we have to figure out a way to win no matter what, so thats what I did,” said Najera.

She had to battle in the final two matches but pulled away with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 victory to advance to the next round.

Next season it looks like Najera will be leading a team with almost everyone returning. With the majority of the team being freshmen this year, the possibilities for next season seem promising.

They are led by head coach Marc Pinckney who just finished his first season and has turned this program around completely.

“He has done a great job rebuilding our team. I have confidence that the women’s tennis team is in good hands. I am looking forward to the long condition workouts he has planned for our summer and playing with him again,” said Najera.

Najera doesn’t know where she wants to go after Mesa, but she has wanted to go to a Division I school since her days at La Jolla Country Day School and it looks like that will happen. For now, she is working hard and getting ready to defend her state title and also to help take her team to the title.