La Cañada High and St. Lucy's met for second time this season in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs Nov. 11, and a tweak to the Regents' lineup might just have given them the edge.
The tweak helped lead St. Lucy's to a 10-8 win at the Claremont Tennis Club.
The defeat eliminated La Cañada (10-7) from the playoffs.
"Obviously, today we had a chance to win," La Cañada Coach Will Moravec said. "If we could have played a couple of better doubles sets, we could have probably won, 10-8, today; that's the way it goes."
The two teams had met on Sept. 15 — it was the Spartans' closest match of the year. Both teams were tied 9-9 at the end of the contest, and the victory went to Regents on games, 79-78.
It wasn't as close this time around, as the St. Lucy's gave La Cañada a different look.
Ellie Johnson, the Regents' best player according to Moravec, was moved from doubles to singles; Alekya Tummala was shifted from singles to doubles to fill Johnson's spot and Taylor Lawrence was put in the lineup after not playing in the September match.
The moves paid off. Johnson didn't lose a single match, going 6-1, 6-0, 6-2. The doubles team of Tummala and Danielle Cooney also went unbeaten, winning all three sets, 7-5, 6-1, 6-2.
"We were playing down today," Moravec said. "You don't want to play your worst game in the finals, you want to peak at the right time."
It was still close until the end, though, with St. Lucy's leading, 7-5, after two of three rounds. However, the Spartans were unable to work their way back.
La Cañada's top singles player, Camille Dunn, and the No. 1 doubles team of Missy Antonopolis and Sydney Fischel, each won all three of their sets against St. Lucy's on Sept. 15, but this time around they both won just two, as Dunn went, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1, and Antonopolis and Fischel went, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6.
Michelle An, the Spartans' No. 2 singles player, also won two, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.
Moravec said he thought a weak Rio Hondo League did his team a disservice in the playoffs. La Cañada didn't face much competition in league and hadn't been in many close matches this year.
It's a different story for the Regents.
"St. Lucy's has been in so many close games, they weren't fazed," Moravec said.