Girls' Tennis: CdM into SoCal quarters

Lauren Thaxter said it makes her proud, being a senior captain on the first Corona del Mar High girls' tennis team to participate in the CIF USTA Southern Regional Championships.

Thaxter got to play a lot more than the rest of her teammates Tuesday at home, in No. 7-seeded CdM's first match against No. 12 Granada Hills.

CdM's other three singles players and three doubles teams finished off victories by about 3 p.m., an hour after the match began. Eighty minutes later, Thaxter was still locked in a battle with Granada Hills No. 1 singles player Sarah Nuno.

The players split the first two sets, both in tiebreakers. Thaxter and Nuno agreed to play a third-set super-tiebreaker instead of a full third set, and it made sense.

"I usually do better in third sets, but I mean, my team had already won," Thaxter said. "I didn't want to make them stay for a whole another set. They were already done when I was in the middle of my first [set]."

Nuno, the two-time Los Angeles City Section singles champion, prevailed, 6-7, 7-6, 10-6. But that was the only set the visitors could muster as CdM won easily, 6-1.

Thaxter can expect another tough set Friday morning, when CdM will play No. 2-seeded Torrey Pines in a quarterfinal match at 10 a.m. at The Claremont Club. Beat Torrey Pines, and CdM could face rival University, the No. 3 seed, in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday.

Unlike regular dual matches, the regional format is not round-robin. The top four singles players and top three doubles duos from each team play each other in one match, best of three sets.

"It's kind a bummer, because usually the other team's No. 1 singles [player] is a high-ranked player," Thaxter said. "I usually don't do well, but I understand, it's [about] the team. If I play No. 1, then everyone [on my team] moves down a step and they have a better chance to win. It's just a team effort."

That was true Tuesday against Granada Hills, the L.A. City Section runner-up. Everyone else easily swept through her sets.

CdM's Riley Gerdau 'double bageled' Granada Hills' Megan Kim, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 2 singles. At Nos. 3 and 4 singles, CdM's Shelby Anderson and Elena Fish beat Christine Yi and Anna Davenport by the same scores.

The Sea Kings were similarly dominant in doubles. Siena Sharf and Jasie Dunk beat Granada Hills' Sam Nuno and Dianne Sarmiento, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1 doubles. CdM seniors Kenzie Purcifull and Kimmia Naaseh got past Sydney Hsueh and Meena Janekrabuanhad, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 2 doubles. And Taylor Fogarty and Erica Chen were victorious over Kelly Pedroza and Emily Davenport, 6-2, 6-0, at No. 3 doubles.

CdM Coach Brian Ricker said he was a bit nervous coming into the match, as he wasn't sure if Thaxter could play and Fish missed Monday's practice with a leg injury.

"I thought, 'We're going to be down two singles girls,'" Ricker said.

But Ricker also knows that CdM can have success in this format. The Sea Kings won the California Girls' Tennis Classic in Clovis, which uses the same format, in September.

It's helpful that CdM has used four singles players throughout the season, due to Thaxter's day-to-day availability.

"It's definitely an advantage," Ricker said.

Torrey Pines, CdM's quarterfinal opponent, is the top-seeded team from the San Diego Section. Torrey Pines has won 24 straight CIF San Diego Section titles, including a 12-6 victory over Rancho Bernardo two weeks ago.

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