The last four singles sets Corona del Mar High sophomore Elena Fish has played have been tough to swallow.
Fish lost three close sets to highly ranked players at Brentwood on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 second-round match, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
On Monday afternoon at CdM, Fish fell to another top player, Madison Hale of Santa Barbara, 7-5. Yet she never gave up and kept scrapping for points. CdM junior Shelby Anderson, with whom Fish shares the No. 3 singles spot, is the same way. It’s necessary for both to be ready to go, as senior Lauren Thaxter’s status is typically day-to-day as she deals with atypical migraine headaches and “auras.”
“Them sharing the No. 3 spot, and that not being a problem for our team, is huge,” CdM Coach Brian Ricker said. “Their attitude is wonderful.”
CdM’s doubles teams have deservedly gotten a lot of press this year, but Fish and Anderson are vital elements as well. But their attitude wasn’t the only wonderful thing for the Sea Kings on Monday.
CdM defeated Santa Barbara, 11-7, in a Division 1 quarterfinal match, advancing to the semifinals for the first time in three years. The No. 4-seeded Sea Kings (19-3) will play at top-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula in the semifinals Wednesday at 2 p.m.
“I think tennis has been slacking with all of the CdM sports,” said freshman Jasie Dunk, who swept at No. 2 doubles with sophomore Siena Sharf. “It’s fun that tennis is really good now.”
Sharf and Dunk had to win the last set when the Sea Kings played the Dons in a nonleague match on the road last month, helping CdM post a 10-8 victory. Monday’s match was decided earlier, after Sharf and Dunk won in doubles and junior Riley Gerdau won in singles early in the third round.
CdM took a 4-2 lead after a round. Seniors Kimmia Naaseh and Kenzie Purcifull outlasted Karina Thornton and Lexy Gulden, 6-4, at No. 1 doubles. And Sharf and Dunk rallied to beat Megan Grant and Lisa Santry, 7-5.
The Sea Kings’ lead was 8-4 after the second round, which included a big 6-0 win by Thaxter over Hale. Hale won the matchup in the previous nonleague meeting, 6-1.
Purcifull and Naaseh won twice to improve to 53-9 at No. 1 doubles. Dunk and Sharf are 51-8 at No. 2 doubles. Taylor Fogarty and Erica Chen, who also won twice on Monday, are 42-12 at No. 3 doubles.
“I didn’t realize how much better we were this year than last year until the last few matches,” Sharf said. “I thought we were going to be kind of the same as last year, [but] I feel like we’re more confident this year.”
Mattea Kilstofte swept at No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-2, 6-0, for the Channel League champion Dons (14-4). Hale won twice. The other set wins came from Grant and Santry at No. 2 doubles, who also won twice.
CdM now prepares to play Peninsula for the second time this season. The undefeated Panthers won the first matchup, 12-6, at CdM on Sept. 25. However, the Sea Kings had three close doubles losses in the first two rounds of that match that could have made it considerably more interesting. They were up in each of the three sets.
“Uni, we got killed the first time we played them, then we came back,” Dunk said. “I think we’re going to do a lot better [this time] against Peninsula, since we’ve played them before.”
Ricker wouldn’t necessarily disagree.
“You never know,” Ricker said. “Every single girl on our team is going to go up there and fight as hard as she can. Everyone’s improved.”