Girls' Tennis: CdM starts CIF strong

CORONA DEL MAR — The Corona del Mar High doubles team of Kenzie Purcifull and Riley Gerdau earned its first "triple bagel" of the season Wednesday.

Purcifull and Gerdau swept visiting San Marcos, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 1 doubles. It was part of a dominating effort for the Sea Kings, who cruised to a 15-3 victory in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Even after the triple bagel, Gerdau showed she is still hungry for more competition. See, the Sea Kings play at No. 4-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula in the second round at 2 p.m. Thursday. The match was moved up a day.

It's the same Peninsula team that dominated CdM, 14-4, in a nonleague meeting Sept. 5. The Panthers led, 12-0, after two rounds.

The Sea Kings again will be underdogs this time, but Gerdau is confident and can't wait for the match.

"We've gotten so much better than since we played them last time," Gerdau said. "They're not expecting it. We're just going to come out and beat them. Biggest upset of the year ... They still think that we're not good, but we've gotten a lot better."

CdM Coach Brian Ricker is not quite predicting victory, but he did remind his squad about what happened two years ago. In 2010, CdM lost to Peninsula, 13-5, in a nonleague match before coming back to top the Panthers, 12-6, in a Division 1 quarterfinal.

"It's going to be an interesting test for our doubles," Ricker said. "The first time we played Peninsula, their doubles overwhelmed us. They hit at our net people, they were big, they were strong and they went down the alley on almost every ball. Our girls just weren't prepared for that kind of pace, that kind of style. But our doubles have improved so much this year ... it'll be a good test to see how far we've come."

Ricker said he has never had a match against San Marcos, in all his years of coaching. But the Sea Kings (16-5) were not really tested against the Royals (10-9), the second-place team from the Channel League. They swept in doubles, with set scores ranging from 6-0 to 6-2. Kimmia Naaseh and Taylor Fogarty also swept, and Sophia Chen and Siena Sharf won twice before senior substitutes Maddie Hayward and Skylar Dapp also won.

CdM led 6-0 after the first round, and 11-1 after two rounds. Lauren Thaxter and Olivia Dajee each won twice in singles, and Shelby Anderson also won a set for the Sea Kings.

San Marcos got its only set wins from Renee Handley, who won twice, and Jordan Lund.

Regardless of the outcome on Thursday, the Sea Kings know Peninsula will be a much more difficult opponent. Ricker said he was a bit disappointed in CdM's playoff draw. He did not think his Sea Kings would have to face a top-four team in the second round.

"This is one of the few years ever that I'm very disappointed in the draw," Ricker said. "I do the seeds, and I had us at a No. 11 seed. The top four, Campbell Hall, Dana Hills, Uni and Peninsula, are significantly better than everyone else. The next three are stronger, but they're not unbeatable. At 11, we should have gotten a crack at someone not in the top four, and there are a couple of schools I felt like we matched up pretty well with."

Four of the Sea Kings' five losses this year were to seeded playoff teams, including University (twice), Peninsula and Dana Hills.

"It's not a perfect science, the way they do the draws, because two teams from the same league can't be on the same side," Ricker said. "It's not that we got bumped, but things had to get moved around ... The kids came through in the big matches this year, and we unfortunately did not get rewarded with a decent draw. What we did on the court during the season, we probably should have gotten a better draw. But, once again, not blaming CIF because it's not a perfect science."

For the Sea Kings, it is just good being back in the playoffs. They missed them last year for the first time in recent memory, after finishing fourth in league.

"It's kind of like redemption, making up for last year," Purcifull said. "I think people now know that we're back."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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