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Girls' Tennis: CdM too much for Sage Hill

Ice buckets have recently been used to raise awareness for ALS.

On Wednesday afternoon at Corona del Mar High, however, an ice bucket was used to welcome a freshman to the Sea Kings girls' tennis team.

Freshman Danielle Willson was the recipient of the water bath, given by senior Riley Gerdau as CdM's nonleague season opener against Sage Hill drew to a close.

Things went swimmingly overall for CdM, as it overwhelmed the Lightning, 17-1.

"We always do things to the freshmen," Gerdau explained after the match. "Since she's the only freshman on varsity, we had to do something. It was voluntary.

"She thought I was going to do it with her," Gerdau added with a laugh. "But obviously, I'm not going to do that with her. I was obviously just going to dump it all on her. She said she's going to get me back, but I'm not going to let that happen."

The team chemistry is good for Corona del Mar, a deep team coming off a CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal appearance a year ago.

"We go all the way to No. 15," said CdM Coach Brian Ricker, who is carrying just 11 of those players on varsity. "On a lot of teams, they would have four, five or six girls on the bench, but I feel like we need to practice. Those girls are on JV. I feel like those girls are varsity-level players in Orange County, but we just don't have a spot for them on varsity."

The girls who were on the varsity team certainly did well Tuesday, even as sophomore Jasie Dunk sat out after aggravating a right shoulder injury during warmups.

Gerdau and junior Siena Sharf earned a "triple bagel" at No. 1 doubles after beating Sage Hill's tandems of Tess Alexander and Abby Ruck, Connie Yu and Stephanie Beder, as well as Marina Anderson and Isabella Deckey, all by an identical 6-0 score.

Gerdau and Sharf had a successful summer playing doubles together, winning the Chapman University tournament in July. And they were undefeated in Tuesday's doubles tournament that was hosted by CdM. Gerdau said the goal this year is to go undefeated as a doubles team, admittedly tough with the Sea Kings' rugged schedule full of fellow Division 1 powers.

"I was hoping we'd do better than most doubles teams have at CdM before," said Gerdau, a four-year varsity player. "Our goal is to sweep throughout the whole season, try not to lose at all. With teams like Uni and Peninsula in the mix, it's going to be difficult, but that's our top goal, even though it's a reach. But I think we're going to do well. And we're best friends on top of it."

Senior Taylor Fogarty and junior Erica Chen, another returning doubles team, also swept at No. 2 doubles for CdM. So did first-year starters Camellia Edalat and Paige Kenerson at No. 3 doubles.

Willson swept her singles sets, 6-0, 6-2, 6-0, and Elena Fish also swept at No. 2 doubles for the Sea Kings. Shelby Anderson won two of three singles sets.

Junior Jaclyn Gerschultz won the only set for Sage, a 7-5 victory over Anderson.

The Lightning also have a lot of returning players, yet are also feeling the benefits of a strong freshman class with players like Deckey, Beder and Maya Byrd.

"I think that everybody has to work really hard to stay on their game, to maintain positions," Sage assistant Coach Diane Rettew said. "And the freshmen have to work really hard to compete with the [upperclassmen]. But I think it's an incredibly cohesive [group]. Everybody's been really supportive of one another. The upperclassmen are doing a good job of mentoring the underclassmen, especially in doubles, and the freshmen are very respectful."

The Lightning continue their difficult preseason schedule Friday and Saturday, as they host their annual Lightning Invitational at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. The tournament also features Tesoro, Newport Harbor, Canyon and league rival St. Margaret's. Tesoro is the defending tournament champion.

The tournament should help the Lightning as they continue to mold their singles and doubles lineups.

"Everybody can play singles and doubles," Rettew said. "They can either shine in singles or doubles, or both. That's why we love that tournament."

CdM, meanwhile, travels to Fresno on Thursday for the annual California Team Classic tournament. CdM is the top seed and defending champion.

"Last year we won by winning all of the doubles, then winning at either No. 3 or 4 singles," Ricker said. "Hopefully we can do the same thing this year, but there's lots of good teams up there."

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