It’s hard to top perfection, but Corona del Mar High girls’ tennis seniors Shaya Northrup and Bella McKinney want to try.
Juniors on last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship team, Northrup and McKinney now find themselves as senior captains on this year’s squad. Not only that, but they are consistently playing doubles together for the first time since they were freshmen.
Four seasons on varsity is a long time. Northrup and McKinney delivered Wednesday to help CdM win a key nonleague match at home. They swept at No. 1 doubles as CdM edged Palos Verdes 10-8 in a battle of teams with the Sea Kings as a mascot.
CdM (2-1) is ranked No. 3 in Division 1, with Palos Verdes (0-1) at No. 4. The match was close enough that a couple of points could have swung it. But it was CdM that was able to rebound from Thursday’s 11-7 road loss at top-ranked North Hollywood Campbell Hall.
Northrup and McKinney improved to 11-0 this season with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 sweep against Palos Verdes. It wasn’t easy. They had to rally from a 5-2 deficit in the first round against Palos Verdes’ Maddie Olsen and Cara Hung.
“I just thought we really wanted it,” Northrup said. “We had a slow start, and we were just like, ‘We can’t lose this for our team right now.’ That one loss literally could have made the difference in the match today. We know that people are counting on us, and how we started was just horrendous. Something flipped, and we just went out and did it.”
The rally at No. 1 doubles was part of a big first round for CdM overall, as it had a 5-1 sets advantage.
“That match could have definitely shifted had they lost that first set,” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “I think it gives a big boost of confidence for the other doubles girls, if your No. 1 team beats their No. 1 team. Your second and third teams feel like maybe they can compete a little bit more.”
In the second round, McKinney and Northrup again found themselves down when a disagreement broke out. They thought they were down 3-2 at the changeover, but Palos Verdes’ Rachel Post and Ripley Yveda claimed the score was 4-1.
We had a slow start, and we were just like, ‘We can’t lose this for our team right now.’ That one loss literally could have made the difference in the match.
The teams finally agreed to go back a game, to 3-1. From there, Northrup and McKinney won five straight games for the 6-3 victory.
“We want to show the younger girls, this is how it’s supposed to go,” McKinney said. “Shaya and I have this intensity to win. We’re not messing around. We want to show them and set an example that this matters a lot after last year.”
Palos Verdes had narrowed its sets deficit to 7-5 by the end of the second round. But Northrup and McKinney finished off their sweep, and senior Janie Marcus earned a singles victory over Caroline Tenney for CdM’s ninth set win. CdM sophomore Reece Kenerson and freshman Jane Paulsen earned the clinching 10th set win, with a 6-4 victory over Post and Yveda.
Senior Kristina Evloeva, who said she recently verbally committed to UC Davis, won two of three sets in singles for CdM. She nearly swept, losing to Palos Verdes sophomore Parker Fry — who did sweep for the visitors — in a tiebreaker.
Senior Roxy MacKenzie won once at No. 3 singles for CdM, while senior Dylan Matesky and sophomore Alden Mulroy won once at No. 3 doubles.
Katie Hart won twice at No. 1 singles for Palos Verdes, and Olsen and Hung won twice at No. 1 doubles.
Wednesday’s match was CdM’s only one of the week, but it has another key one next Tuesday. CdM plays at former Pacific Coast League rival University in a rematch of last year’s Division 1 title match. The Trojans are ranked No. 6 in Division 1.