The Corona del Mar High girls’ tennis team gave itself a shot to beat top-seeded North Hollywood Campbell Hall on Friday in a CIF/USTA Southern California Regional semifinal match.
Even after falling behind 3-0, which meant that the Vikings needed just one more set to take the win, the Sea Kings battled.
Senior Janie Marcus picked up a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Campbell Hall’s Devyn Marinos at No. 2 singles, avenging a loss from earlier this season. Meanwhile, CdM senior Kristina Evloeva and junior Ashley Thomas in singles, as well as the doubles pairing of senior Bella McKinney and freshman Jane Paulsen, all pushed their matches to decisive third sets.
“Obviously you’re fighting against the odds there [being down 3-0],” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “You need all four [remaining matches] to go right, which is tough against a very good team. But at least I felt like we started competing better.”
The ultimate competitor for Campbell Hall clinched the victory for her team. Vikings coach Steve Kuechel said that senior Dominique Stone has lost just five matches in four years, and Friday was not one of those occasions.
Stone rallied for a 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Evloeva at No. 1 singles, clinching a 5-2 match victory for Campbell Hall at the Claremont Club.
CdM, which defeated Encinitas San Dieguito Academy 6-1 in a quarterfinal match earlier Friday, will not defend its regional title from a year ago. Campbell Hall (21-2), the CIF Southern Section Open Division champion, plays Arcadia (22-1) for the title Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The Sea Kings (19-4), who also won the Division 1 title last season and went undefeated, found the going tougher in 2018. They still made semifinal appearances in the Open Division and regional playoffs.
“I probably worked this team harder than last year, just because we didn’t have the same talent level this year,” Gresh said. “No disrespect to this team. This team really worked their tails off, and I thought they competed great under pressure.”
Campbell Hall still zoomed out to a 3-0 lead in the regional semifinal. First senior Patria Aziz beat CdM’s Alden Mulroy 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3 singles, and then seniors Rachel Wagner and Aliya Allyn earned a 6-3, 6-2 victory over CdM seniors Shaya Northrup and Roxy MacKenzie at No. 1 doubles.
After the Vikings’ Lisa Wagner and Devyn Hunter beat CdM sophomores Reece Kenerson and Hannah Jervis 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles, the Sea Kings were in a serious hole. Marcus still came through for a singles win with her future college coach, Mike Morgan of Pomona-Pitzer, among those in attendance.
“Last time I tried to be aggressive and hit hard balls the whole time, and I could tell that she liked that,” Marcus said. “This time I went out and really tried to structure the points. She didn’t like dealing with the variety that I was giving her today.”
Campbell Hall also picked up a win at No. 3 doubles, where Samantha Zwillinger and Alyssa Bojenkova beat McKinney and Paulsen, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. With the match already decided, CdM’s Thomas beat Xio Novo 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4 singles.
Evloeva, Marcus and Northrup all earned singles wins against San Dieguito Academy. The doubles teams of Kenerson and Jervis, McKinney and Paulsen, as well as Mulroy and Thomas, also were victorious.
McKinney and Northrup closed out four-year varsity careers for CdM. MacKenzie and Evloeva will play doubles together in the CIF Southern Section Individuals tournament, which begins Monday at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center, along with Kenerson and Jervis in doubles. Marcus and Mulroy will compete in singles.