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High School Female Athletes of the Week: Laguna Beach’s Ella Pachl and Sarah MacCallum dominated in doubles

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Laguna Beach’s Sarah MacCallum, left, and Ella Pachl didn’t drop a set en route to winning the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles tournament.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Todd MacCallum said he would like to start hanging signs at the Laguna Beach High tennis courts to signify the accomplishments of the program, similar to the way it is done at Corona del Mar or Dana Hills.

The Breakers, who were CIF Southern Section Division 3 finalists in 2018, still might not have quite the team pedigree of the Sea Kings or Dolphins. But individually, MacCallum’s sophomore daughter, Sarah, and senior Ella Pachl did something on Monday that only two other girls in program history can claim.

Pachl and Sarah MacCallum won the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles title, defeating Beckman’s Kiki Nguyen and Victoria Aguirre 6-1, 6-3 at Seal Beach Tennis Center. The only other Breakers singles player or doubles team to win at CIF Individuals happened in 2005, when Claire Rietsch and Lyndsay Kinstler won the doubles crown.

“I think when we were playing together, we just knew we were a good team,” said Pachl, bound for UC San Diego. “I thought we had a good chance literally against whoever we played.”

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The Breakers duo bore that out. They did not lose a set in claiming the Wave League doubles title on Oct. 30-31, beating Edison’s Zoe Coggins and Kailee You 7-5, 6-1 in the final at Marina High. Pachl and MacCallum rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the first set.

The Breakers duo of Ella Pachl and Sarah MacCallum beats Beckman’s Victoria Aguirre and Kiki Nguyen 6-1, 6-3 in the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles final.

In seven matches at the CIF Individuals tournament, Pachl and MacCallum also didn’t drop a set. This included a 6-3, 6-0 rout of top-seeded Mya Wang and Emily Markus of University in the semifinals, in which the Laguna Beach team won 12 straight games after dropping the first three.

There was no opponent like Arcadia’s Lauren Ko and Michelle Deng, who each graduated last year after winning three straight CIF Individuals doubles titles from 2016-2018. Still, Pachl and MacCallum shined brightest this year.

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Laguna Beach’s Sarah MacCallum, left, and Ella Pachl pose with the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles championship plaques on Monday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

It was a fitting end to the three-year high school career of Pachl, who was home-schooled as a freshman. Her sophomore year she almost made it to Seal Beach in singles but lost 6-3, 6-7, 10-5 in the third round of sectionals to Claremont’s Goldie La at the Claremont Club.

Last year, Pachl was upset by Coggins 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 in the Wave League singles semifinals and failed to advance to the postseason. MacCallum beat Coggins in the league singles final and made the second round of CIF Individuals.

Pachl has gone through her share of adversity. She said she played through sickness for much of the season last year. This season, she suffered a right rotator cuff injury in August and ended up playing doubles nearly the whole season as a result, usually with Natty Cenan.

Pachl said she didn’t mind.

“Doubles is more fun to play than singles,” she said. “It’s less stressful. You have a person to talk to, a person to rely on ... A lot of the time it was my forehand that hurt, so I played backhand side. I prefer to play backhand side anyway. I did hit forehands, but I wasn’t stretched out on the run. And it did hurt to serve, and in doubles you serve less than in singles. I didn’t have to hit big serves.”

Pachl is excited to move on to UC San Diego, noting that the Tritons program is moving from Division II to Division I next year.

MacCallum played singles throughout the regular season with mixed results, as she said she was working on a new forehand and new hitting stroke. She also welcomed the opportunity to play doubles in the postseason with her friend, Pachl, who she has known since their days at Top of the World Elementary.

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MacCallum said she hopes to have a new partner for CIF Individuals next year. That would be her younger sister, Jessica, who will be a freshman at Laguna Beach next year and is also an accomplished tennis player.

“She’s amazing,” Sarah said. “Honestly, sometimes I’m jealous. I say [that she’s better than me] to my parents, and my parents are like, ‘That’s not true.’ But it’s so incredible because we are completely different players. She is the exact opposite of me. She likes her backhand, she likes to stand inside the court. She doesn’t like the net and I like the net. We’re completely different players, and I hope that’s what will make us a good team.”

In terms of CIF championship plaques, older sister now has a leg up.

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Laguna Beach’s Ella Pachl, left, and Sarah MacCallum defeated Beckman’s Kiki Nguyen and Victoria Aguirre 6-1, 6-3 for the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles title.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Ella Pachl

Born: Oct. 30, 2002

Hometown: Laguna Beach

Height: 5 feet 10

Sport: Tennis

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Year: Senior

Coach: Rick Conkey

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite movie: “10 Things I Hate About You”

Favorite athletic moment: Committing to UC San Diego for women’s tennis in August.

Week in review: Pachl and partner Sarah MacCallum went 7-0 over five days at the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles tournament, capping it off with a 6-1, 6-3 title match win over Beckman’s Kiki Nguyen and Victoria Aguirre on Monday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.

Sarah MacCallum

Born: Feb. 14, 2004

Hometown: Laguna Beach

Height: 5 feet 2

Sport: Tennis

Year: Sophomore

Coach: Rick Conkey

Favorite food: Eggs Benedict

Favorite movie: “Dumb and Dumber”

Favorite athletic moment: Winning doubles sectionals in the 14s with Mika Ikemori.

Week in review: MacCallum and partner Ella Pachl went 7-0 over five days at the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles tournament, capping it off with a 6-1, 6-3 title match win over Beckman’s Kiki Nguyen and Victoria Aguirre on Monday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.

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