L.B. Poly, Esperanza Rated Early Favorites

The Long Beach Poly boys and the Anaheim Esperanza girls are among the favorites to win Southern Section and possibly state titles.

Long Beach Poly, which won the state Division I title last year, is ranked third in the nation and second in the West region by Harrier magazine. Santa Ana is ranked 10th in the West region.

Esperanza's girls, who finished second behind Yucaipa at the state meet last year, are ranked eighth nationally and second in the West. Yucaipa, which has won three consecutive state titles, is ranked 11th in the nation and fifth in the West. Chino Hills Ayala, third in the state last year, is ranked eighth in the West.

The Belmont boys and the Van Nuys Birmingham girls are favored to repeat as City Section champions.

Lauren Fleshman of Canyon Country Canyon and Allyson Marquand of Irvine University are two of the top girls in the Southland. Alfonso Leon of Santa Ana, Jose Herrera of Anaheim Loara and Josh Spiker of Ventura are among the top boys.

GIRLS' TENNIS / Palisades Comes Back Stronger Than Ever

Not much is expected to change in City Section girls' tennis as Palisades is considered a heavy favorite to repeat as 4-A champion.

Marshall is the defending 3-A titlist.

In the Southern Section, several of the region's top junior players have opted not to compete for their high school teams.

Corona del Mar ended Palos Verdes Peninsula's string of six consecutive championships last year and the two schools are expected to contend once again for the Division I title.

Dana Hills (Division II), Palm Desert (Division III), West Hills Chaminade (Division IV) and Pasadena Poly (Division V) all are expected to make runs at consecutive championships.

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