Championship drive derailed early for Crescenta Valley girls’ tennis

CLAREMONT — A four-point first-round deficit proved insurmountable for the Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis team in its quest to claim the program’s first CIF Southern Section championship.

The top-seeded Falcons struggled in opening action and saw their rally come up short in a 10-8 defeat to second-seeded Redlands in the Division III championship Friday at the Claremont Club.

The loss ends a 15-4 season for the Falcons, who finished second in the competitive Pacific League, which sent three teams to the semifinals and two squads into championship matches Friday.

“We just missed too many chances,” Crescenta Valley coach Sam Hyun said. “We didn’t get any points from our No. 2 doubles and I was expecting at least one point there and I thought we would get some more points in other places. You can’t win when we’re losing that big and can’t get points.”

Redlands (27-0) finished 5-4 in doubles action, but immediately took control of the match behind a doubles sweep in the first round that put the Citrus Belt League champion ahead, 5-1.

Crescenta Valley tried to rally, tying the next round of action at 3, but still trailed 8-4.

The Falcons even finished 4-2 in the final round of play, but could not close the deficit in a 10-8 loss.

Redlands’ No. 1 singles player Kendall Bolock clinched her team’s triumph with victory No. 10, a 6-0 win over Polin Crete.

“That big [5-1] hole was definitely a slap in the face,” Crescenta Valley senior doubles player Michelle Jung said. “After that, we just didn’t give up. The girls gave it their all and I’m proud of them.

“As a senior ... I hope they learn from this and come back even stronger.”

Bolock finished 3-0 and propelled her team to a 5-4 edge in singles play.

Glendale countered with a 2-1 effort in singles action from No. 1 Melissa Muradoglu (2-6, 6-2, 6-2), while Victoria Borkowski (6-3) and Crete (6-2) added a victory each.

In doubles action, No. 1 Rachel Shin and Jung finished 2-1 (4-6, 6-2, 7-5), while the No. 3 tandem of Camille Gibney and Kiran Hamkins (6-4, 6-3, 2-6), the reigning All-Area Doubles Team of the Year, also finished 2-1.

While Jung and Shin won a close 7-5 set over Redlands’ Layla Jimenez and Martina Daniel in doubles play, what may have hurt Crescenta Valley most is the close nature of some of its other defeats.

In singles action, Redlands’ Allison Casto nudged Crescenta Valley’s Borkowski 7-6 (7-4) and Crete 7-6 (8-6).

“When you go down 1-5, you almost have to win everything,” Hyun said. “We lost some close ones and we couldn’t come back. Maybe one or two points for us makes this different.”

Even with the loss, Crescenta Valley put together a somewhat incredible playoff run over the last two seasons as the squad has posted an 8-2 record with visits to the quarterfinals and finals the last two seasons.

The turnaround has been magical for Shin, a senior.

“Seriously, I remember when I was a freshman and we were No. 5 in league,” Shin said. “Every year we improved, we went further in the playoffs. I’m just so proud of this team.”

andrew.campa@latimes.com

Twitter @campadresports

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