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GIRLS’ TENNIS PLAYOFFS : Sea Kings Falter, Lose to Santa Barbara

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One way to look at Corona del Mar’s 10-8 loss to Santa Barbara in Thursday’s Division I semifinals is the Sea Kings saved themselves a trip to Claremont to get thumped by Palos Verdes Peninsula in the final again.

The other way to look at the loss is a bit more painful. The Sea Kings would be playing Tuesday if Megan Wachtler or Nina Vaughan had been able to hold their leads over Santa Barbara’s No. 1 singles player, Pilar Montgomery.

Wachtler led Montgomery, 5-2, and had two set points before Montgomery stormed back to take the next five games and win the set, 7-5. If Wachtler had won the set, Corona del Mar would have had a 7-5 lead over second-seeded Santa Barbara (21-1) going into the final round.

Vaughan led Montgomery, 3-1, in the final set of the final round and had a game point in the fifth game. But Vaughan’s serve let her down and she wound up losing, 6-4. If Vaughan had won her set, Corona del Mar (16-4) would have won the match because of an advantage in games.

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“I just gutted it out,” said Montgomery, who has signed a letter of intent to play tennis at Penn State. “I guess when I get down I feel like I have no chance anyway so I might as well go for it.”

While Montgomery was going for it, Wachtler and Vaughan were spending most of the time on the baseline waiting for Montgomery to make an error.

It never happened.

“The big points she didn’t miss,” Corona del Mar Coach Tim Mang said. “Megan should have been more aggressive when she had [Montgomery] down and she’ll tell you that. It’s nerves out there. In the close matches, it comes down to who’s going to be more aggressive.”

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Vaughan said it came down her faulty serve.

“I was double-faulting like crazy,” she said. “That match was my serve, nothing more.”

But Montgomery said there was more to it than that.

“I know [Wachtler and Vaughan] like pace a lot, so I slowed it down,” said Montgomery, who was mobbed by her teammates after her match-clinching victory over Vaughan.

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The third-seeded Sea Kings also could have clinched the match in doubles, but Kate Julian and Ashley Harrington lost to Katie Bennett and Megan Hughes, 6-4, in the final round after leading 4-3.

In Division II:

Laguna Beach 9, Redlands 9 (Laguna Beach wins on games, 88-78)--Michelle Bray swept in singles, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, for top-seeded Laguna Beach (20-3). Redlands ended 23-1.

Bray improved to 47-3 this season for Laguna Beach, which will play Villa Park in the final.

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Villa Park 9, Calabasas 9 (Villa Park wins on games, 71-70)--Faye DeVera, who swept her singles sets, defeated Shera Wiegler, 6-4, in the final set to give the Spartans (19-0) the victory.

In Division III:

El Dorado 13, Claremont Webb 5--Susan Surapruik and Brittany McMillan swept in doubles, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, and Jana Lind and Melisa Liao also swept, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 for visiting El Dorado.

Top-seeded El Dorado (23-1) advanced to Tuesday’s final to play third-seeded Hemet.

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