The Corona del Mar High girls’ tennis team, coming off a perfect season that included CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF Southern California Regional titles, began its title defense this week.
Wednesday’s nonleague match against Mater Dei brought a chance to compete against a team that has already been playing matches for two weeks.
The Monarchs have started the season hot, winning their first four matches. But CdM put an end to that run in convincing fashion, earning a 16-2 victory at home.
Mater Dei coach Mike Moorewood, whose Monarchs (4-1) have already earned victories against three Sunset League teams this season in Edison, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos, knew why his team was unable to earn a fourth.
“We’re not in the same neighborhood [of talent as CdM],” Moorewood said. “We’re in the same city, but not the same neighborhood.”
Coach Jamie Gresh’s Sea Kings (2-0), who return eight players from last year’s championship team, won eight singles sets and eight doubles sets. They earned their second straight 16-2 win, after beating San Clemente by the same score in Tuesday’s season opener.
Senior Kristina Evloeva won twice at No. 1 singles before being subbed out on Wednesday. Senior Roxy MacKenzie easily swept in singles, and senior Janie Marcus won twice before being subbed out. Marcus is a transfer who said she attended Advantage Tennis Academy in Irvine full-time last year.
“It’s really exciting,” said Marcus, who did play high school tennis as a freshman and sophomore at Los Angeles Marlborough. “I think high school tennis is really fun, so getting back and being with a good, fun team is awesome. Our team wasn’t very good [at Marlborough], so it wasn’t as intense.”
Seniors Shaya Northrup and Bella McKinney swept 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles for CdM. Sophomore Reece Kenerson and freshman Jane Paulsen also easily swept at No. 2 doubles, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
It’s exciting coming back as a CIF champion, but we also have to like defend our name.
Junior Ashley Thomas and sophomore Alden Mulroy won once in two sets at No. 3 doubles. Sophomores Olivia Sipora and Tori Varela then subbed in for a 6-3 victory over Mater Dei’s No. 1 tandem of Alexis Brown and Marissa Moore.
Sipora and Varela are the Sea Kings’ two players who competed on junior varsity last season. They had success there, as Gresh said that Sipora was the Pacific Coast League JV singles champion last year and Varela was the runner-up.
Of the six seniors, MacKenzie, Northrup and McKinney have spent all of their high school career on varsity. CdM has been successful in that time, as the Sea Kings went a combined 66-3 the last three years. But CdM did lose top players like two-time Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year Danielle Willson (now playing at USC) and Annika Bassey (Harvard) to graduation.
“We’re trying to stick together, because we want to have a great season like we did last year,” McKinney said. “It’s exciting coming back as a CIF champion, but we also have to like defend our name.”
CdM also has Mater Dei transfer Hannah Jervis, a sophomore, in the mix. Gresh said that Jervis is currently serving out the CIF Southern Section 30-day sit-out period and will become eligible on Sept. 24.
The Sea Kings expect a good test Thursday, when they travel to play North Hollywood Campbell Hall in a nonleague match at Weddington Golf & Tennis Club in Studio City. Campbell Hall, the No. 3 seed, advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals last year, before it was upset by University.
CdM did not play Campbell Hall last season.
“We do have depth,” Gresh said. “Obviously, we’ll know how good we are after [Thursday], but I liked the first two matches. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far, in terms of what the doubles girls are doing, and then our singles girls are playing at a good level right now.
“I feel like these girls have a lot of confidence in who they are as tennis players. They’ve really worked hard in the summer, playing a lot of tournaments to get themselves ready. Every year is a new year with a different team, but these 14 girls are excited about the season.”