The La Cañada High girls' team's strength and weaknesses flip-flopped at the Rio Hondo League Tournament Nov. 3-4 at Live Oak Park in Temple City.
Doubles play, the backbone for the Spartans this year, was disappointing for La Cañada, as just one team advancing out of the first round. Meanwhile, each singles player won her first match.
The final two players in the singles and doubles sections of the tournament advanced to CIF Southern Section individual competition.
Missy Antonopolis and Sydney Fischel, the Spartans' top doubles team, were the closest to qualifying, finishing in fourth place out of 15 teams.
Antonopolis and Fischel easily won their first match against South Pasadena's A.J. Pruett and Mei Chung, 8-1. The second round against San Marino's Anya Laibangyang and Michelle Gandawidjaja came a little bit tougher, however.
"It was their first dog fight," Spartans Coach Will Moravec said.
Due to a lot of unforced errors, Antonopolis and Fischel were down 3-0 early, but were able to tie the score at 5 on their way to an 8-6 victory. The pair's ability to communicate and encourage one another pushed them to a win, Fischel said.
It was more of the same in the semifinal match against sisters Vivian and Tammy Le of San Marino, the top-seeded team in the tournament. A number of unforced errors put Antonopolis and Fischel down early. But this time they were unable to rebound, losing both games by 6-3 scores in a best-of-three-sets semifinals.
"The other team hit a lot of great shots, but I thought we put up a good fight today," Antonopolis said.
Fischel and Antonopolis had the chance to pull even with the Le sisters but couldn't convert on multiple chances, Moravec said.
"That was a tough one. But when you play defensive, not to lose, you're going to give the other team chances and San Marino is too good," Moravec said.
La Cañada hopes to have saved their strong showing for the CIF tournament, which begins on at 2 p.m. today. The Spartans begin the Division II playoffs against host St. Lucy's, a team that beat them on Sept. 15, in the closest match of the year. At the end of the day, the Regents and Spartans were knotted at 9-9, but St. Lucy's got the win with a 79-78 edge in games.
"It will be a battle," Moravec said. "That was very early on in the season, we will see if they have gotten better or if we have gotten any better. It could go either way, depending on who they have and how our girls respond."