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CdM duo upset in CIF Individuals girls' tennis semifinals

Corona del Mar High seniors Kristina Evloeva and Roxy MacKenzie had never played girls’ doubles together prior to this postseason.

Evloeva and MacKenzie teamed to win the Surf League doubles title, and made a lengthy run in the CIF Southern Section Individuals tournament.

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On Friday afternoon at Seal Beach Tennis Center, though, they ultimately lost to a team with a longer doubles pedigree.

Evloeva and MacKenzie couldn’t do quite enough to extend their season. Senior Jordan Hickey and sophomore Arianna Stavropoulos of Los Angeles Marlborough produced their second straight upset, rallying for a 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 2-seeded Evloeva and MacKenzie.

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Hickey and Stavropoulos, the Mission League champions who beat the No. 3 team from Murrieta Valley in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, advanced to play top-seeded two-time defending champions Lauren Ko and Michelle Deng of Arcadia in the doubles title match later Friday.

“It feels incredible,” said Hickey, a left-hander. “Last year, we got to the quarterfinals and we came so close to getting to the semis. This year, it’s my senior year, so we really wanted to do the best that we could. I think that just forced us to perform better. We’re performing when we have to, and I think that’s what really matters.

“[Evloeva and MacKenzie] were definitely tough to play against. They were better at the baseline than any other team we’ve played, I think. But I think we were able to be a little bit better at the net, in terms of our volleys. I think that gave us a little bit of an edge.”

Corona del Mar High doubles players Kristina Evloeva, left, and Roxy MacKenzie react after losing the first set 7-5 to Los Angeles Marlborough's Jordan Hickey and Arianna Stavropoulos in the CIF Southern Section Individuals semifinals at Seal Beach Tennis Center on Friday.
Corona del Mar High doubles players Kristina Evloeva, left, and Roxy MacKenzie react after losing the first set 7-5 to Los Angeles Marlborough's Jordan Hickey and Arianna Stavropoulos in the CIF Southern Section Individuals semifinals at Seal Beach Tennis Center on Friday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Evloeva, bound for UC Davis, missed a chance to play against her future college teammate Ko. She and MacKenzie failed to hold a 5-3 lead in the first set, as Hickey and Stavropoulos won four straight games.

“Honestly, on Wednesday [against Murrieta Valley] we lost the first set 6-0,” Hickey said. “I think that’s when we perform best, when we’re under the most pressure.”

In the 5-3 game, Stavropoulos saved three set points on her serve. The Marlborough duo then won the next two games before breaking Evloeva’s serve to claim the set.

“I definitely think they picked up their level when they were down,” Evloeva said. “I feel like we started making more errors … The whole match was really close. We would win a point, and they would win a point. It was definitely really back and forth, but I think they won the closer points more often than us.”

The CdM duo broke Stavropoulos’ serve to open the second set, but Evloeva immediately had her serve broken to level the set. It stayed on serve after that until MacKenzie was broken at 3-4, but Evloeva and MacKenzie broke Stavropoulos’ serve in the following game to stay alive.

“Even when we were playing better than them and we were ahead, they were still steady the whole time,” MacKenzie said. “It was kind of who could be the steadiest during that match … They’re both really respectable players, for sure.”

Serving to stay in the match at 4-5, this time it was Evloeva who saved three set points. But the match ended after MacKenzie buried a backhand into the net.

“Kristina and Roxy had a very good run to the semis,” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “Obviously they wanted to go further, but that was a very good team that they played today. That team worked really well together. We just had trouble breaking [Hickey’s] serve. She mixed up her speeds and spins. That was a unique dynamic, playing the lefty-righty combo.”

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