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Flawless sngles effort powers La Cañada girls' tennis

LA CAÑADA — The La Cañada High singles trio was simply flawless.

It was a sweep in singles that powered the Spartans girls’ tennis team to a 12-6 Rio Hondo League home victory against South Pasadena on Tuesday.

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No. 1 singles player Sophie McKenzie, No. 2 Eliana Hanna and No. 3 Annabel Kevakian swept their sets without dropping a game.

“Our strength is those [singles] players,” La Cañada coach Will Moravec said. “They’re USTA tournament players, they play tournaments all the time, and we basically live and die by them.

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“We knew against Temple City and South Pasadena that those girls are better than some of the [opposing] players, so we were pretty confident. I was pretty relaxed.”

South Pasadena (7-2, 1-2 in league) struggled to gain footing in its singles sets, which doomed the Tigers early after the La Cañada singles players wrapped things up after about an hour on the court.

Though the Spartans (5-3, 3-1) won only three doubles matches, La Cañada rotated their doubles teams by substituting five players into the rotation.

“One of the things is that, if we’ve won the match and it’s clinched, when [the substitutes] go in, they’re really just trying to gain experience,” Moravec said. “... Our subs are having a really true varsity experience today because they’re playing the other starters of South Pasadena.”

The La Cañada No. 2 doubles team of Elise Wu and Artis Phillips played all three sets, claiming only one win, a 6-2 triumph over the South Pasadena No. 3 doubles team.

“At this point, we’re really out here for the fun and we always say, ‘just one more game, just one more game,’” Phillips said. “We just try to keep going with every point we can.”

La Cañada No. 1 doubles team of Ashley Chun and Selena Matuska defeated the South Pasadena No. 3 squad, 6-3, while the No. 3 Spartans doubles team of Maya Urata and Sonia Bhascaran, battled for a tiebreak win against the No. 2 South Pasadena doubles

“It was tough,” Wu said. “South Pasadena is a really good team, but just staying confident and going out there not being scared to lose and doing our best going for every point is what we’ve been trying to do with every set.”

The La Cañada doubles featured two heavily contested battles, including Urata and Bhascaran suffering a 7-5 loss.

“Every point you just try to congratulate or just get over it because you can’t have the memory of the last point determine anything else,” Phillips said. “You can’t think, ‘I’m going to win this because I won the last one’ or ‘it’s come back time.’ You have to make everything happen.”

The singles wins provided a little leverage for the doubles teams later in the match. With a first-round singles sweep, it gave La Canada room to work with other players.

“Our singles players are incredible and super talented,” Wu said. “But I think that during our [doubles] matches, we try not to think about how everyone else is doing. We just try to focus on our match and do the best.”

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