Smith Reaches Semifinals With 2 Straight-Set Wins

Kirstin Smith of Thousand Oaks continued her roll through the 90th Ojai Valley Tennis tournament Friday, winning two matches to move into today's semifinals in the girls' 18 singles division.

Smith began play at 7:45 a.m. and defeated nationally ranked and top-seeded Cammie Foley of San Diego, 6-0, 6-1. She then beat Kirstin Green, 6-2, 6-2, in a quarterfinal match and will meet Carla Quaresma of San Diego this morning at 11.

"This was one of best wins I've ever had," Smith said of her first match. "She didn't show a lot of energy or enthusiasm, so I took advantage of that. I just concentrated on keeping the ball in play and going to the net when I could."

Smith, who has had problems putting away opponents in the past, had no such troubles against Foley.

"I learned from my mistakes," Smith said. "You have to keep your opponent down when they're down."

Of the win over Green, Smith said: "I hit a lot of deep balls with lots of pace on them and kept her in the backcourt. It seemed that it was hard for her to play me because she felt intimidated."

Smith defeated Quaresma last week in the quarterfinals of the Anaheim Tennis Center Junior Open, a tournament in which Smith won both the singles and doubles titles.

"This is lot different," Smith said. "My coach (Paul Steele) always tells me that you're not playing a person, you're playing a ball."

Smith credits Steele, her coach for the past seven months, for her recent improvement.

"He's really helped me on the mental aspect of the game," Smith said. "I've never had a coach teach me point strategy before. It used to be that I was a one- or two-shot player, either hitting a winner or the fence. But now I'm more consistent and I know why I'm going for a shot."

In other matches involving Valley-area players, Abigail Villena and Alisha Portnoy, both of Granada Hills, reached the semifinals of the girls' 18 doubles with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Christa and Erica Hanson. In a boys' 16 singles match, Gary Potter of Thousand Oaks was eliminated by Heath Montgomery of Santa Barbara, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

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