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Corona del Mar’s Roxy MacKenzie bows out at USTA SoCal Junior Sectionals

Roxy MacKenzie of Newport Coast returns a shot to Erica Ekstrand of Santa Monica in the girls? 18 si
Roxy MacKenzie of Newport Coast returns a shot to Erica Ekstrand of Santa Monica in the girls’ 18-and-under round of 64 singles match at the 117th USTA Southern California Junior Sectional Championships on Wednesday at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Roxy MacKenzie intimated on Wednesday that she is one for tradition.

The soon-to-be graduate of Corona del Mar High said that she has competed in the USTA Southern California Junior Sectional Championships every year since the age of 14.

On its own merit, the tournament has turned into one of the biggest draws in junior tennis. This year marks the 117th edition of the Junior Sectionals, bringing out many of the most promising players in the sport.

MacKenzie did not make the kind of showing that she would have liked this time around, losing to Erica Ekstrand of Santa Monica 6-1, 6-1 in the round of 64 of the girls’ 18-and-under singles main draw at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley.

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She did, however, have all of the love and support that she could handle.

Perhaps the most sacred of high school traditions is the senior graduation, a time when family comes together to celebrate a major benchmark in that person’s life. Had MacKenzie won her first match of the tournament, she may have had to reschedule her second round match to work around the CdM graduation, which will be held at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center on Thursday.

A day ahead of the ceremony, MacKenzie got a dress rehearsal for the cheers that she will hear, as family members, coaches and her boyfriend came out to see her play.

Roxy MacKenzie of Newport Coast returns a shot to Erica Ekstrand of Santa Monica in the girls’ 18
Newport Coast's Roxy MacKenzie returns a shot to Santa Monica's Erica Ekstrand in the girls' 18-and-under round of 64 singles match at the 117th USTA Southern California Junior Sectional Championships on Wednesday in Fountain Valley.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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For much of her career, MacKenzie played doubles for the Sea Kings. She paired up with Shaya Northrup or Bella McKinney. Even as she played more singles in her senior year, MacKenzie joined forces with singles ace Kristina Evloeva for a run in the CIF Southern Section Individuals this year, where they were the No. 2-seeded pairing. MacKenzie and Evloeva advanced to the semifinals.

“I honestly prefer singles, but I also enjoyed playing a lot of doubles,” said MacKenzie, who is committed to Butler University. “I feel like it was a good experience for me because getting better in my singles, I feel like it has helped my doubles a lot, as well.

“I’m going to actually try to train a lot more in doubles this year because in college tennis, doubles is a really big part of it.”

MacKenzie went on to call the CdM girls’ tennis program the highlight of her time at the school. She played varsity tennis for the Sea Kings all four years.

“I had a really good time at CdM,” MacKenzie said. “My favorite part about it was probably the tennis team. I felt like I got shaped into a lot better tennis player, and I feel really prepared for college tennis, since I played on such a competitive high school team.”

MacKenzie earned Dream Team honors as a doubles player as a junior, and she again was a Dream Team selection her senior year after posting a 38-10 record as CdM’s No. 3 singles player.

Sea Kings girls’ tennis coach saw steady improvement from MacKenzie, both on the court and in the classroom, throughout her four years at CdM.

“I think she progressively got better and better each year on the court,” Gresh said. “Her productivity in terms of helping the team was very critical to the team’s making the [CIF] semifinals three years in a row, and then winning it her junior year.

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“She had a big role to play in that, and just her love for the game and her desire to improve by playing and competing was remarkable.”

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andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner


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