San Marino tennis topples La Canada easily

SAN MARINO — It can be hard for the San Marino High girls’ tennis team to bring the same intensity into every match, but the Titans weren’t lacking any fire when they hosted La Cañada High for each team’s Rio Hondo League opener Thursday.

It was a rough start to the league season for the Spartans, who couldn’t pull out a single set in an 18-0 loss to San Marino after they finished second in league last season.

“Today, I think they’re focused,” said San Marino Coach Melwin Pereira of his No. 1-ranked squad in CIF Southern Section Division II. “We are playing teams that aren’t pushing us and that’s what I’m worried about, we don’t have good quality nonleague matches. Today is the first time I’ve seen them focused in a match that’s not tough. I like their focus, I was very impressed with them.”

La Cañada Coach Will Moravec said he believed Thursday was the first time the Spartans have ever lost to San Marino, or any team, 18-0. The result doesn’t really concern him, as he said La Cañada’s main concern is beating Temple City and South Pasadena if it hopes to take second in league again.

“I’m a firm believer that if you’re mentally tough you can shrug it off,” said Moravec, whose team hosts Temple City Tuesday and travels to South Pasadena Thursday, of the lopsided loss. “In this case, our team knows who we have to beat.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that the Titans have lost Sarah Gealer, last year’s league singles champion, to graduation with the addition of freshmen Devon Jack and Madeleine Gandawidjaja. Jack swept her opponents in No. 3 singles, 6-4, 6-0, 6-0, and Madeleine Gandawidjaja teamed with sister Monique Gandawidjaja in No. 1 doubles for a sweep, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

San Marino ace Dorothy Tang, who took second in the league singles tournament in 2011 after she’d won in 2010 and 2009, said this season really comes down to advancing to the CIF championship for the Titans after they fell to Newport Harbor in the semifinals in 2011, 11-7.

“We are looking forward to CIF,” said Tang, who only dropped two games en route to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-0 sweep. “Today we are feeling pretty good, everyone is playing their best out there so I am really liking our chances.”

The Titans also had Sasha Gabig and Aliki Kuitne drop just two games, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.

Suma Gudipati nearly pulled out a win for La Cañada in the final set of the day, but she came up just short in a 7-6 loss to Celestine Yeh, who was subbed in for Vivian Le (6-0, 6-2) in No. 2 singles.

San Marino’s Rebecca Sheih and Maddi Schmidt were also subbed in for Lauren Chang and Andrea Klein (6-1, 6-2) in No. 2 doubles before earning a 6-3 win.

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