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La Cañada girls' tennis marches to CIF semifinals

La Cañada girls' tennis marches to CIF semifinals
La Cañada High singles player Sophie McKenzie returns a shot against Claremont in a CIF Division II quarterfinal match Monday. (James Carbone)

LA CAÑADA — It’s been quite an impressive playoff run thus far for the La Cañada High girls’ tennis team.

After competing in CIF Southern Section Division I the past several seasons, the Spartans moved to Division II this season after the CIF Southern Section office realigned the five divisions.

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So far, the Spartans have sent a message they are determined to try to win their first CIF championship since 1977.

La Cañada continued its torrid play Monday, getting a sweep in doubles from Eliana Hanna and Ashley Chun to post a 10-9 quarterfinal home win against Claremont on Monday.

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La Cañada (14-4) will travel to face Long Beach Poly (21-0) in a semifinal match at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Long Beach Poly posted a 17-1 victory Monday against fourth-seeded Great Oak after winning the Moore League title. The winner will march to the finals at 11 a.m. Friday at the Claremont Club.

The Spartans will make their first semifinals ppearance since 2007, when they fell to Chadwick in Division III competition.

“We’ve been in Division I for years and it’s so tough,” said La Cañada coach will Moravec, whose team took second in the Rio Hondo League before posting postseason wins against Brentwood, second-seeded Redlands and Claremont. “The tennis gods are looking over us now in Division II and the playoffs will continue to get tougher.

“We’ve been riding the coattails of a lot of tournament players, so we are battled tested.”

Competing in a quarterfinal match for the first time since 2008, the Spartans built a 4-2 lead after the first round against Claremont (14-4). They then held a 7-5 advantage through the second round.

La Cañada turned to Hanna and Chun, who won, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0. The duo registered the only doubles victories for the Spartans, who won the Division III-A title in 1977.

“It helped getting off to a good start,” said Chun, a senior. “It helps your mentality in being able to stay positive. I think Eliana and I were able to click the whole way through.”

Said Hanna, a freshman, who teamed with Maya Urata to win the league’s doubles championship: “I thought Ashley played consistently at the baseline and she did an amazing job serving. It’s been a fun ride in the playoffs and we have some great players here. You could see the team confidence building with every point.”

The Spartans received a sweep in singles from Sophie McKenzie, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Singles Player of the Year. McKenzie, who finished runner-up in the league singles final after winning last season, won, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.

La Cañada got two wins apiece in singles from Urata, 6-2, 6-0, and Anabelle Kevakian, 6-4, 6-1.

Claremont, which won the Palomares League crown, got two victories in singles from Goldie La, 6-0, 6-0. The Wolfpack received two wins apiece in doubles from Caren Uribe and Jahday Drewesy, 6-2, 6-4, Astrid Petropoulos and Camile Mouafagian, 6-1, 6-3, and Emma Berens and Kristin Hernandez, 7-5, 6-4.

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