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THE PREPS : Southern Section Individual Tennis : Corona del Mar’s Phebus Moves Into Semifinals

Corona del Mar High School’s Keri Phebus had one goal in mind entering the school year--to win the Southern Section individual tennis championship.

On Wednesday, Phebus moved a step closer to her goal with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Nyree Kerr of Miraleste in a quarterfinal match at the Racquet Club of Irvine.

Phebus, ranked No. 1 in the nation among 14-year-olds, was the only competitor in the 16-player tournament to receive a first-round bye; her opponent was declared academically ineligible. Southern Section officials would not release the player’s name.

Phebus, a freshman, won’t have to contend with the player who might have been her main competition, Kimberly Po of Miraleste. Po elected not to play in the individual tournament.

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“I’m disappointed Kimberly’s not playing,” said Phebus (48-2), whose only losses this year were to Po. “But my goal has been to win this tournament since the start of the year.”

Phebus will meet Kirstin Smith of Thousand Oaks in a semifinal match starting at 9 a.m. today. Smith pulled out 3-set victories over Crissy Hall of Bishop Montgomery and Monica Goldberg of Chadwick Wednesday.

In doubles, top-seeded Michelle Foster and Page Bartelt of Capistrano Valley reached the semifinals by defeating Santa Barbara’s Lori Ruddle and Sarah Prager, 6-3, 6-0, in the round of 16 and beating Sheila Moore and Anita Chen of Palos Verdes, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

Foster and Bartelt, South Coast League doubles champions, have played only six matches together and have not lost a set. They will play Melissa Kaiser and Erica Hanson of Miraleste, who knocked off Corona del Mar’s top doubles team of Robin Bain and Kristi Phebus in a quarterfinal match, 6-4, 7-6.

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Corona del Mar’s No. 2 doubles team of Michelle McFarland and Courtney Strauss was eliminated by San Marino’s Amy Okum and Roxy Protasovicki, 7-6, 6-3, in the round of 16. Fountain Valley’s Stephanie Urricariet and Kellie Thompson, Sunset League doubles champions, also were defeated in the round of 16 by Trisha Silverman and Elise Nakawatase of Agoura, 6-3, 7-5.

In singles, Jeanette Fylpaa of University lost in the round of 16 to Natasha Pospich of Calabasas, 6-1, 6-0. Fylpaa, a freshman, is ranked in the top 25 of the Southern California 14s.

“I learned there is a lot of tough competition out there,” Fylpaa said. “Pospich is a very good player. I just hope I can improve my performances in this tournament in the years to come.”

In the other semifinal singles match, Karen Price of Bishop Montgomery will face Nicole Hummel of San Marino.

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