Greatness has a way of spoiling the masses.
After the Corona del Mar High girls’ tennis team completed an undefeated campaign last season, many recognize that the senior leaders of that team will not easily be replaced.
Losing stars like Danielle Willson (USC) and Annika Bassey (Harvard) as recent graduates is certainly significant, but CdM has bridged the gap and remained a top contender.
The Sea Kings picked up their sixth straight victory in defeating Manhattan Beach Mira Costa 15-3 on Wednesday in a nonleague match at home.
CdM (9-2), ranked fourth in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, breezed through its match against the seventh-ranked Mustangs (11-5).
It marked CdM’s fourth win in six tries against teams currently represented in the top 16 in Division 1. The Sea Kings also have wins over No. 5 Palos Verdes (10-8), No. 9 Beckman (15-3) and No. 16 Mater Dei (16-2).
The two losses for the Sea Kings came against top-ranked University and No. 3 North Hollywood Campbell Hall, both by scores of 11-7.
“I think our schedule is really strong, so I think that is going to help us as the season progresses,” Sea Kings coach Jamie Gresh said. “We have [No. 14] Dana Hills coming up on the schedule, as well as [No. 6 Rolling Hills Estates] Peninsula, another couple of ranked teams.
“I think that we’re trending in the right direction, and we’re playing better doubles. I think our singles lineup is getting stronger in terms of putting sets away when they’re supposed to put those sets away.”
As a school, CdM moved to the Sunset Conference this season, leaving the Sea Kings to shop around for premier matches. Although CdM played its share of tough nonleague matches before, ranked opponents were built into the schedule when the Sea Kings were part of the Pacific Coast League.
Even without CdM, the Pacific Coast League still comprises three ranked teams in University, Beckman and No. 13 Northwood.
“I think it’s just different because you have to schedule them as nonleague matches, so they start the season off,” Gresh added. “Obviously, you would like to have more matches under your belt so that some of your kids are a little less nervous.”
Kristina Evloeva, Janie Marcus and Roxanne Mackenzie combined to sweep the singles sets on Tuesday against Nicole Wuelfing, Haily Huynh and Kendall Daviduk, their counterparts from Mira Costa.
Evloeva said that taking on the No. 1 singles role has been tough after Willson dominated for the Sea Kings in recent years.
“She was a good senior leader last year, and she played so well,” Evloeva said. “I’m definitely trying my best on that. It’s only my second year here, and she was here for all four years playing on the team.
“It’s still kind of new to me, but I think our team is doing great this year.”
CdM won five out of six sets in every round. The doubles teams of Reece Kenerson and Hannah Jervis, as well as Alden Mulroy and Jane Paulsen, squeezed out 6-4 victories in the first round of match play to get the Sea Kings off to a good start.
I think that we’re trending in the right direction, and we’re playing better doubles. I think our singles lineup is getting stronger ...
Kenerson and Jervis stayed sharp throughout. They beat the Mustangs’ top pairing of Audrey Vo and Olga Nagy 6-4, and they completed a sweep of their matches with a come-from-behind 6-3 win over Lindsay Giese and Peyton Douglas.
“We were very excited,” Jervis, a Mater Dei transfer, said of defeating Vo and Nagy. “That was a big win for us. We knew that Shaya [Northrup] and Bella [McKinney] had lost against them, so they must have been pretty good.
“Also, we were very excited because we knew that we were playing our best, and we knew that we couldn’t have played any better.”
Northrup and McKinney rebounded from the opening-round loss to win their next two sets by two breaks of serve, producing identical scores of 6-2.