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Laguna Beach girls' tennis opens Wave League with win at Marina

The Laguna Beach High girls’ tennis team opened Wave League play with a 12-6 victory in windy conditions at Marina on Thursday.

Behind sweeps from Sara MacCallum and Ella Pachl in singles, the Breakers improved to 3-7 overall, while the Vikings dropped to 6-8.

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MacCallum, a freshman, didn’t cede a single game in her first two matchups against Lisa Tobin and Lisa Ponti.

While many players took breathers after concluding sets, MacCallum refused. Immediately after clinching her second win, she squared her shoulders and paced back to her side of the court to wait for Marina’s McKenna Livingston.

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“She’s a competitor,” Breakers coach Rick Conkey said. “She invites competition. I love how she adapts mid-game. She finds the opponent’s weakness and figures out ways to attack it.”

It can be hard for a young player to make a mark so early, but MacCallum feels comfortable on this Laguna Beach team.

“I normally don’t have a lot of confidence,” she said. “Fitting in has always been hard for me, but being on this team has made that a lot easier. I have confidence in my role on the team, as well as with my serve.”

Livingston put a lot of pressure on MacCallum with several powerful blasts, but the pair went blow for blow for nine games. The freshman broke the final one to clinch a 6-4 win.

Livingston catapulted to a 4-1 lead in her first set against Pachl, as the two exchanged thunderous strokes. The No. 1 singles player for Laguna Beach was visibly frustrated by the gusty Marina winds.

“None of our girls are used to those conditions,” Conkey said. “For Ella, the frustration bubbles up and starts to percolate, but that makes her more focused and intense.”

“I was really, really scared about the wind,” MacCallum said. “Everyone was having trouble with it.”

Pachl slammed a volley past Livingston for the final point in a 7-5 triumph.

Despite two losses for the No. 1 Marina singles player, her coach, Chuck Kingman, admired her perseverance.

“We never have a problem with her competing” Kingman said. “It was just a good match. I love how she battled. It’s not often that you see her have to compete against two great players [MacCallum and Pachl], so the fact that she hung in there was impressive.”

The Vikings made their most hay on the doubles courts, snatching four points over nine sets.

“Our doubles went in the right direction today,” Kingman said. “We’re finding some set teams we can go with. We’ve had a lot of roster shuffling, so we’re still finding the right combinations to maximize our success.”

The team of Madison Ho and Aubrey Mulvihill scored three of Marina’s six points, winning 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

Livingston won her second set against Ainsley Barlsford 6-0. Barlsford sustained an ankle injury to force a forfeit to Tobin.

Chloe Mason and Vivian Phan accounted for the final Marina points in a 6-0 decision over Megan Mindt and Vanessa Gee.

The Breakers return home for league competition on Tuesday against Edison.

The Vikings go across town to face Huntington Beach on Tuesday.

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