Harvard-Westlake Girls Win Division III Title : High school tennis: Mehlman leads Wolverines to their second consecutive championship in 13-5 victory over St. Lucy's.

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In practices leading up to the Southern Section Division III girls' tennis tournament, Harvard-Westlake High Coach Rich Kinuyn brought four makes of tennis balls for his players to use.

"It's called being prepared," Kinuyn said. "No matter what balls (the Southern Section officials) bring out, we've already practiced with it."

Whatever works. And the Wolverines worked over Glendora St. Lucy's, 13-5, on Tuesday to win their second consecutive title, at the Claremont Club.

The Wolverines finished the season 22-3, the Regents at 22-1.

Wolverine junior Romy Mehlman won all three of her matches, beating Neetu Manjunath, 6-1; Jackie Jocson, 6-3; and Melissa Canny, 6-1. Afterward, Mehlman, who is ranked 23rd nationally in the 16s division, headed to Houston to play in the indoor nationals 16-and-under classification.

"We wanted it so bad," Mehlman said. "It's more special than winning a national tournament."

St. Lucy's Coach Juanita Bunkers was impressed by Mehlman.

"She has a lot of nice topspin," Bunkers said. "She's one of the top four players we played against this season."

Wolverine freshman Jackie Gortman lost to Manjunath, 1-6, but handled Jocson and Canny, winning both matches 6-3.

Chanie Raykoff lost 7-6 (8-6) to Manjunath and 6-4 to Jocson, but prevented a sweep by beating Canny, 6-1.

Raykoff was disappointed most by her loss to Jocson.

"I was up, 4-3, and my mind started racing and I couldn't concentrate," said Raykoff, who missed her freshman and sophomore tennis seasons because of injury. "I was thinking ahead and as soon as I knew it I was down, 5-4. She didn't beat me, I beat myself."

In doubles, the team of junior Julie Green and senior Karyn Koven won two of three sets for the Wolverines. Green and Koven defeated seniors Lisa Haley and Michelle Artolachipe, 6-2, and beat sophomores Rodcel Barrios and Christina Bunkers, 6-3, but lost to juniors Jessica Castagnari and Christine Amba, 6-1.

"We were playing aggressively and we weren't making any mistakes," Green said. Harvard-Westlake juniors Andrea Levine and Melanie Schornberg won three sets, including a 7-5 victory over Castagnari and Amba.

"We were up, 4-1, but let up," Levine said. "We kept saying don't be afraid of the ball. When you're nervous, you tend to want your partner to hit it."

Junior Natalie Rice and senior Gloria Abramson won a pair of matches, 6-4 and 6-0, but lost, 7-6 (7-2), to Castagnari and Amba.

As for using four brands of balls at practices, Koven thinks it might have helped.

"If nothing else it gave us confidence," she said.

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