Johannah Galindo faced a familiar opponent Tuesday afternoon at Birmingham High in the finals of the City Section individual tennis tournament, her sister Julianna.
For the third straight year, Johannah defeated her younger sibling to claim the singles title, a nice parting gift before she graduates one semester early from Marshall High in order to play for the University of Hawaii, the school with which she signed a full-ride athletic scholarship last week.
“It doesn’t really matter who I play [in the finals] but I feel bad for Julianna, who won’t have a chance to win until I graduate,” Johannah said after her 7-5, 6-2 sweep. “Otherwise, she would’ve won three in a row.”
Ranked as high as No. 11 in California and No. 75 nationally in the USTA Juniors, Johannah was introduced to the sport by her dad at age 5 and started playing tournaments when she was 8. Marshall did not have a girls team her freshman year, so she played No. 1 on the boys squad and went undefeated.
Johannah owns a perfect record in City competition three years running, having beaten Julianna in the individual finals 6-4, 6-4 in 2021 and 6-3, 6-3 last fall. Now 17, she took the opportunity to visit the Hawaii campus while playing a tournament in Honolulu in October, and after talking to the coach she decided to commit.
Sixteen-year-old junior Julianna benefited from her sister’s advice to get past Granada Hills’ No. 1 player, Saruyi Parandian, in a tense three-setter in the semifinals and hopes the fourth time is a charm in 2024.
“I’ve had enough of second place so, yes, next year is a big opportunity,” Julianna said. “It’s a great experience playing Johannah. She has a different game than me, she’s more aggressive, but I’ve improved a lot by playing her. She’s always supporting me.”
Asked if she would consider following her sister to Hawaii when her own high school career is complete, Julianna would not rule it out: “It’s definitely an option to play with her there.”
While the Galindos were trading groundstrokes for the singles crown, Granada Hills juniors Georgia Brown and Priscilla Grinner were putting the finishing touches on another undefeated season, capturing their second straight doubles title with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Palisades’ Sashi Gancheva and Anne Kelly.
Brown and Grinner began playing together as ninth-graders and their lone defeat since becoming a duo was to their then senior teammates Anisa Londhe and Mikayla Kane in the City tournament in 2021. They swept their three sets to lead the Highlanders past Palisades in the team final three weeks ago and did not drop a set on their way to the doubles title. Brown ended Tuesday’s match with a volley winner after a blistering cross-court return by Grinner.
Grinner has been playing tennis since she was 4, Brown since she was 8. Brown played the deuce court in the finals, Grinner the ad side. The two hang out off the court as well — building Legos, going to Six Flags Magic Mountain or fueling up at their favorite eatery.
“We both play singles outside of school, but I love playing with Georgia,” Grinner said. “We know when to pick each other up and we know we won’t let each other down.”
“We’re patient with each other and we stay positive,” Brown added. “We try to be aggressive but smart at the same time. We usually find our opponents’ weaknesses and if they make adjustments, we change things up.”
They would love nothing more than to make it three in a row next year.