Tars' title streak at four

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Students around the Fountain Valley High campus wore costumes for Halloween on Monday, and a few of them even seeped onto the tennis court.

Two boys hit back and forth on one court. One was wearing a red shirt and hat and was supposed to be Mario, the video game character. The other one wore green and was, naturally, supposed to be Luigi.

No costumes were allowed in the Sunset League finale between the Newport Harbor girls' tennis team and Fountain Valley, just tennis uniforms.

"Beasts" were still everywhere.

That's the word the Sailors sometimes use to refer to themselves. They again lived up to it after dominating the host Barons, 18-0, to finish their second straight undefeated league season.

Newport Harbor has won four straight titles in league, going 39-1 in that stretch. The only loss was to Los Alamitos two years ago.

Two of the Sailors' three season goals are now complete. They defeated CdM in the Battle of the Bay and went through league undefeated. The last goal is the CIF Southern Section Division II title.

After the victory, the Sailors celebrated with cupcakes. They put on T-shirts that included a team photo and the words, "Beasts of Steel 2011" on the top and "Sunset League Champions" on the bottom.

"They just keep setting big goals for themselves, and pushing each other to get there," Coach Kristen Case said. "I'm so proud of them, because this is all them. They've worked so hard, and really committed to one another. I'm happy that they get to see what happens when a bunch of individuals really become a team, and go after that single goal together."

Fountain Valley Coach Harshul Patel reminded the teams that it was Halloween during pre-match introductions, following that up with a "Boo!"

The Sailors (16-1, 10-0 in league) were not scared, blanking Fountain Valley (4-11, 3-7) for the second time in league.

No set was close, the scores ranging from 6-0 to 6-2. Senior Blake Bakkila won her three singles sets, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0, and the No. 3 doubles team of senior Holly Hovnanian and junior Kaitlyn Cosenza swept, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.

"They're pretty full right now," senior Mindy Wheeler said of the "triple bagel," earning laughs from her teammates. "We definitely wanted to finish league with a bang."

Wheeler and Megan Bathen won twice before being subbed out at No. 2 doubles, and senior twins Christina and Robin Young also won three sets at No. 1 doubles.

Newport Harbor's three primary doubles teams never lost a set in league, finishing a combined 75-0.

"We've just built so much as a program," said Bakkila, a four-year varsity player. "I feel like this is the year that we can really finish it out. I'm just really proud of all these girls. They've worked so hard. You just think about all the things we've done from summer to now, and it's unbelievable to know that every stadium [stairs run], every lap, was for this moment. It's very rewarding."

Sophomores Natalie Cernius and Kate Knight combined for three 6-0 sets at No. 2 singles against Fountain Valley, and freshmen Annie Radeva and Michelle Samson also easily combined to sweep at No. 3 singles. Senior Cece Beck and junior Kelsey Christiansen also subbed in for a doubles win.

The Sunset League individual tournament is Thursday and Friday at Seal Beach Tennis Center. Then Newport Harbor, ranked No. 3 in Division II, will await the release of the CIF playoff brackets Monday. The Sailors are trying to get back to The Claremont Club for the final, after losing there last year to San Marino.

"Now we have two goals down," Christina Young said. "We just have one more to go."

The last one is in plain sight.


Twitter: @mjszabo

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