Purcifull, Naaseh set the trend

It took a spry teenager to get the Corona del Mar High girls' tennis team into "spry blue" uniforms.

Her name is Kenzie Purcifull.

At the start of Purcifull's sophomore year, Coach Brian Ricker gave team uniform responsibilities to her mother, Renee. Kenzie saw an opportunity.

She already wore the popular Lululemon Athletica apparel line when she played tennis. So why not equip all of the Sea Kings in Lululemon? They weren't tennis uniforms per se — the company describes itself as making yoga clothes and running gear — but Kenzie Purcifull was attracted to the bright colors and aggressive styling.

Ricker was initially not so much in favor of the change. It was easy for Purcifull, who wants to be an economics major in college, to understand why. The Lululemon uniforms were slightly more expensive than Nike's at the time, although Purcifull said that is no longer true.

"They don't really do team sales like Nike does," she said. "You just have to buy them when you see them. It was difficult, but I think it's worth it, because every tournament we go to we get so many compliments. We never see a team that has the same outfit as us. I think they're really good quality, and they're just different. This year we have a blue and white striped skirt, which I've never seen before I bought these. They're just unique and different from your Nike or K-Swiss, your team sales from Tennis Warehouse kind of uniforms."

Kenzie Purcifull is now a senior, and Ricker said that part of her legacy is that she changed the Sea Kings' uniforms.

But don't get it twisted. Purcifull, who was moved up to varsity as a freshman, is pretty darn good at tennis too.

Last weekend at the California Girls' Tennis Classic in Clovis, she and her senior doubles partner, Kimmia Naaseh, made sure that CdM didn't walk away as "lululosers."

The Daily Pilot Athletes of the Week swept at No. 1 doubles as the No. 5-seeded Sea Kings won the title in Division 1, topping Mountain View St. Francis, 5-2, in the final.

In a 4-3 semifinal victory over top-seeded defending champion Cupertino Monte Vista, Purcifull and Naaseh won a tight match in a third-set tiebreaker, 3-6, 6-4, 10-5. They helped CdM end Monte Vista's 57-match winning streak.

"We just tried to stay positive," Naaseh said of the tight victory. "I knew both of us knew in the back of our minds that a big part of us moving on to the next round was all of our doubles [teams] winning. We were just focusing on winning it for the team. We were trying new ways to get the points in the second set, which worked better for us."

Ricker said he wasn't expecting CdM, which had finished ninth and seventh the last two years, to win the tournament. Really, neither were Purcifull and Naaseh.

"It felt really good," Naaseh said. "It was a really good way for us to end our last trip to Fresno."

It's just been a great start to the season for CdM. The Sea Kings also had both of their other doubles teams, Siena Sharf and Jasie Dunk, as well as Taylor Fogarty and Erica Chen, go undefeated in Clovis. CdM also swept in doubles on Wednesday, when CdM beat Dana Hills for the first time in seven years, 12-6, on the road. In that match, Purcifull and Naaseh came from behind for a 7-6 (7-2) tiebreaker victory in the first round, helping the Sea Kings stay tied early.

Purcifull and Naaseh, who also went undefeated in CdM's doubles tournament and a practice match against Beverly Hills, have not lost yet this season. Perhaps their success would be easy to predict. After all, Purcifull, a three-year captain, is also in her third year at No. 1 doubles for the Sea Kings. In 2011, she played with Naaseh's older sister, Ariana, who now plays club tennis at Cal. Last year, Purcifull played with Riley Gerdau, who is now playing singles.

Kimmia Naaseh, who played at No. 3 doubles last year with Taylor Fogarty, also is a team captain this year. Ricker said she's the team captain in charge of fun.

"I plan team dinners and try to get everyone together," Naaseh said. "Brian thinks that I like to talk and be social, so he gave me that title."

On the court, Purcifull and Naaseh definitely get along. Naaseh usually plays on the baseline, with the 5-foot-9 Purcifull rushing the net to wreak havoc. On CdM, the strategy is known as the "Taylor strategy," as Fogarty also has the job of being super-aggressive at the net.

"Sometimes I feel bad because I get all the cheering, because people who don't necessarily know our strategy think I'm just putting it away," Purcifull said. "In reality, it's Kimmia setting me up. It's effective, because our opponents don't really know what we're doing. All of a sudden I'll just be up there, and they don't really know how to react to it. I think it frustrates people, which makes me happy."

Purcifull and Naaseh haven't had much reason to be frustrated so far this season. They have helped the proud Sea Kings back near the top of CIF Southern Section Division 1. Just two years ago, when they were sophomores, CdM finished fourth in the Pacific Coast League and missed the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, maybe the first time ever. It ended a streak of 12 straight years in the semifinals.

"It was depressing," Purcifull said. "It was kind of like a shock to us. When I was a freshman, we made it to the semifinals. As a sophomore, to not even make it to the playoffs was kind of like, 'Oh, I didn't know that could really happen.'"

The surprised reaction now happens whenever a team plays CdM for the first time. Ricker said it happened when the Sea Kings showed up in Fresno last year, as girls from other teams immediately came up to compliment the CdM girls on their outfits.

"Our team could be a commercial for [Lululemon]," Ricker said. "I gave in on that one. It's a give and take, and one of the gives is that I let them get the uniforms they want."

But the CdM coach, in his 10th year, doesn't really mind as long as the results are there on the court.

The Sea Kings are not only winning, but they're doing so in style.

Kimmia Naaseh

Born: March 27, 1996

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-7

Sport: Tennis

Year: Senior

Coach: Brian Ricker

Favorite food: Ho Sum Bistro chicken salad

Favorite movie: "Despicable Me 2"

Favorite athletic moment: Winning the California Girls' Tennis Classic tournament last weekend in Clovis.

Week in review: Naaseh and partner Kenzie Purcifull went undefeated at No. 1 doubles to help CdM win the California Girls' Tennis Classic for the first time since 2007.

Kenzie Purcifull

Born: April 12, 1996

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-9

Sport: Tennis

Year: Senior

Coach: Brian Ricker

Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies

Favorite movie: "Bridesmaids"

Favorite athletic moment: Winning the California Girls' Tennis Classic tournament last weekend in Clovis.

Week in review: Purcifull and partner Kimmia Naaseh went undefeated at No. 1 doubles to help CdM win the California Girls' Tennis Classic for the first time since 2007.

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