Layzer Completes Dream Season

Penelope Lindeen -- Encinal High senior Sofia Layzer finishes a serve against Tennyson on Oct. 13.
Penelope Lindeen -- Encinal High senior Sofia Layzer finishes a serve against Tennyson on Oct. 13.

Layzer Completes Dream Season

After four years of playing tennis, Encinal High School (EHS) senior Sofia Layzer had reached a precipice. The EHS tennis star led 6-5 in the second set of the West Alameda County Conference (WACC) Tournament final. Layzer, a two-time WACC Shoreline Player of the Year, reached the final the previous two years, but came up short.

“The pressure I’ve had throughout senior year has been hard,” Layzer explained. “Because of my winning streak, everyone expects me to win. But I have the thoughts that every athlete goes through: what if I lose?”

There was no “what if” this time around, as Layzer held on to defeat San Leandro High’s Stephanie Lopez, 7-6, 7-5, at Chabot College on Nov. 4. The win ensured Layzer would finish with a perfect 12-0 singles record this season.

However, the final was anything but a cake walk. The first set was a back-and-forth battle that saw the final scoreline finish 6-6. The set finished with a tiebreak, 7-2 in favor of Layzer.

“The pressure going into the tournament was unreal,” said Layzer. “I’m happy I won for my team, but also for the schools who took me in when my coach or team wasn’t there for me throughout my high school experience.”

Despite going undefeated in regular season league play over four years, back-to-back second place finishes in the league tournament left Layzer wanting more.

“I’ve been trying to win for the last three years, and I finally did it.”

The WACC women’s tennis tournament consists of the top 12 players in the league competing in a single elimination tournament. The top four seeds going into the tournament get a bye to the second round. Layzer was seeded #1 in the bracket. Encinal’s Bonnie Banh also qualified for the tournament. The senior won her first-round match before bowing out to Lopez, 6-1, 6-1, in the second round.

After her bye, Layzer faced off against Hayward High School’s Diane Nguyen (not seeded). Layzer beat Nguyen in convincing fashion, 6-2, 6-2.

Layzer’s third round match was against #3 seed Mandy Guan. She beat Guan, 6-1, in the first set, but the second set was a lot closer. Thanks to Guan’s powerful serves, which made Layzer run a lot at the beginning, Guan was able to win a few of the games. Unfazed by the losses, Layzer came through with a 6-4 set victory. This secured Layzer’s spot in the finals for the third year in a row.

The pressure built to a climax at this point. People obviously had expectations of Layzer, being the #1 seed. More than that though, she had expectations of herself.

“These mental games can cause you to throw off your game,” she said. “To combat that my teammates and friends help relieve that pressure.”

Layzer was the first Encinal player to win the tournament since 2019. EHS did not qualify for the North Coast Section women’s tennis team tournament.

Max Millot and Penelope Lindeen are Encinal High School students who work on the EHS publication, Horizon. The article was originally published at