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Marina’s Mika Ikemori advances to CIF Individuals girls’ tennis semifinals

Marina's Mika Ikemori follows through on a backhand during the CIF Southern Section Individuals tournament Wednesday.
Marina’s Mika Ikemori follows through on a backhand during the CIF Southern Section Individuals tournament Wednesday at Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont.
(James Carbone)
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Marina High senior Mika Ikemori is known as a tenacious competitor on the tennis court, but also as fair and a good sport.

On Wednesday afternoon at the CIF Individuals girls’ tennis championships, she let Palos Verdes Peninsula’s Isa Bringas borrow a shoe after she ripped a hole in the bottom of her own.

Typical Mika.

“We had an extra pair in my bag,” she said.

Still, the competitor in Ikemori definitely came out early in her CIF Individuals singles quarterfinal match against Anna Petrescu of Yorba Linda at Biszantz Family Tennis Center.

Ikemori hit a forehand from the baseline that she thought caught the right sideline. Petrescu disagreed, calling the ball wide.

“You did not just call that out!” Ikemori said, before walking off the court to get a referee.

Down 5-3 in the first set, the No. 4-seeded Ikemori somehow had an answer. She won the last 10 games of the match, earning a 7-5, 6-0 win over Petrescu to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

Ikemori, a CIF singles finalist last year, will play top-seeded Tsehay Driscoll of La Cañada in the semifinals at 11 a.m. All of the singles seeds held, as No. 2-seeded Nadia Kojonroj of Troy will face No. 3 Kenzie Nguyen of Portola in the other semifinal.

The championship match will follow.

Kojonroj overcame an inspired effort by Huntington Beach junior Yen Nhi Huynh in another quarterfinal match, rallying to win 1-6, 6-4 and 10-4 in a third set super-tiebreaker.

Huntington Beach High's Yen Nhi Huynh returns a serve during the CIF Individuals tournament in Claremont on Wednesday.
(James Carbone)

Corona del Mar seniors Lauren Jones and Cate Montgomery won a round of 32 doubles match before falling to No. 4-seeded Daniela Borruel and Crystal Kim of Sunny Hills 6-0, 6-1 in the round of 16.

Ikemori is back competing on the final day, in a last hurrah for her high school tennis career before she heads to UC Davis. The two-time Wave League champion also beat Maegan Deng of Redondo Union 6-2, 6-2 in a round of 16 match.

She remains undefeated this year in both dual matches and the CIF Individuals tournament.

“I think I just had a lot of fire,” Ikemori said of her quarterfinal win. “I don’t know. I just started to kind of grind it out and hit more angles to tire her out. I just wanted it a lot, so when I went down. I was like, ‘We need to pick it up.’ I just wanted to fight my hardest.”

Huynh certainly did that, too. The Surf League singles champion beat Mia Jovic of South Torrance 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in the round of 16 to earn the quarterfinal showdown against Kojonroj, a left-handed player bound for Air Force.

Huynh battled back from 4-1 down in the second set to 4-4, but Kojonroj had the answers after that to return to the semifinals.

“I think I started off strong today,” said Huynh, who made the quarterfinals for the second straight year. “[Kojonroj] turned it up a notch in the second set, and I wasn’t able to do that. I used a lot of my energy on the first set, and I wasn’t expecting her to turn it up in the second set. That’s where I lost a little bit. I was kind of confused on what to do ... She took risks and they worked out for her.”

Corona del Mar's Cate Montgomery returns a backhand during play on Wednesday.
(James Carbone)

Jones and Montgomery, four-year varsity players for CdM, earned a 6-1, 6-2 win over a team from Studio City Harvard-Westlake in the round of 32 before losing to Sunny Hills in the round of 16.

They played doubles together throughout their senior year, ending their high school careers on a memorable note. It was the second straight year that Montgomery made the doubles round of 16, after advancing that far last year with graduate Jane Paulsen.

“I’m glad we made it to Individuals for sure,” Montgomery said. “It was fun to keep our season going ... Jamie [Gresh] has just been a really good coach and made it fun. It’s always been a cooperative environment. It’s never been harsh between teammates.”

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