Marina’s Mika Ikemori advances to CIF Southern Section Individuals girls’ tennis semifinals
Under the lights they played on, hours after they arrived at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center.
The prize? Getting to come back the next day.
Marina High junior Mika Ikemori and Huntington Beach High sophomore Yen Nhi Huynh were the last players still competing in the CIF Southern Section Individuals girls’ tennis tournament Wednesday night.
“There’s less energy, I think, [at night],” Ikemori said. “You have to find a way to create your own intensity, because it’s cold. No one really likes to play under the lights ... I like morning matches better, because it wakes you up.”
Ikemori, the No. 2 seed, still powered through and did earn a morning match Thursday.
She registered a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Hunyh to advance to the singles semifinals.
Ikemori, the Wave League champion, will play No. 3-seeded Nadia Kojonroj of Troy in one semifinal at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, back at Whittier Narrows. Top-seeded Daniela Borruel of Sunny Hills plays Lindsay Eisenman of Palos Verdes Peninsula in the other semifinal.
The championship match will follow the semifinals. Only one girl from Marina has ever made a CIF Southern Section Individuals title match; Carrie Crisell was a singles finalist in 1985.
Due to damp courts, play was delayed a couple of hours Wednesday. Ikemori showed up to check in at 10:30 a.m., but didn’t take the court for her round of 16 match against Megan Sun of Westlake until after 2 p.m.
Ikemori rallied to beat Sun 6-7, 6-3, 10-8. She was down 8-6 in the 10-point super-tiebreaker, but won the last four points.
“She played really well and did not miss a ball,” Ikemori said. “She made me tired ... I’m glad I was able to be patient and not go crazy that I was down 8-6. Sometimes when you’re down, you can start spraying balls and losing your marbles.”
Huynh was the other local singles player in action Wednesday. She beat Morgan Shaffer of Villa Park 7-6, 6-2 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinal against Ikemori.
Three local doubles teams won in the round of 32 before falling in the round of 16.
Corona del Mar’s Jane Paulsen and Cate Montgomery beat Charlotte Ryan and Katherine Kelly of Santa Barbara 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 32. They then fell to No. 4-seeded Samantha Wang and Cara Hung of Arcadia, 6-3, 6-1.
“We’re just super-happy,” Paulsen said. “I just wanted to make it [to Individuals] my senior year, since I’ve made it since freshman year.”
Paulsen and then-partner Reece Kenerson lost to an Arcadia team including Hung in the quarterfinals last year.
“We were just happy to get four games [today against Arcadia],” Paulsen said with a laugh, before getting emotional when discussing her tenure at CdM. “It’s the end of an era. I’ve loved it. Jamie [Gresh] was always such a great coach, and it was always fun to play for him. It was fun to be a senior captain this year, too.”
Edison’s Kailee You and Kaylee Hsieh got past Baani Singh and Sam Lee of Esperanza 6-3, 6-0 in the round of 32. You and Hsieh then lost to No. 2-seeded Jane Lee and Nour Khayat of University, 6-1, 6-1.
You, like Paulsen, capped her high school tennis career with her fourth straight Individuals appearance. She played with the Chargers’ Shannon Stolaruk as a freshman, Zoe Coggins as a sophomore and Cassey Hitch as a junior.
This was her deepest run, however.
“It felt really good,” You said. “We were not expecting this ... [but] we’re good friends. We have good communication.”
Huntington Beach seniors Sophie Jin-Ngo and Cindy Huynh rallied to beat Kaylin and Haley Kielty of Temescal Canyon 7-6, 6-4 in the round of 32. Jin-Ngo and Huynh then lost 6-3, 6-1 to No. 3-seeded Sasha Ozerets and Kei Kato of Aliso Niguel in the round of 16.
The Oilers have done a lot during Jin-Ngo and Huynh’s four-year tenure. When they were freshmen, they helped Huntington Beach win its first CIF title.
This year, the Oilers made the Division 1 semifinals before losing to eventual champion San Marino on games.
“This year was probably my favorite,” Cindy Huynh said with a big smile. “I really love playing doubles much more than singles. I enjoyed it, but all four years have been great.”
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