La Canada perfect in doubles against South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA — It’s always a battle for the runner-up position in the Rio Hondo League girls’ tennis standings with San Marino playing annual favorites for the league crown.

La Cañada put itself in prime position to take second in league for the second year in a row after posting a 16-2 victory at South Pasadena, which is contending with Temple City for a top-three spot in league, Thursday.

“We are really happy,” said La Cañada Coach Will Moravec, who predicted the Tigers and Rams were the ones to beat for his team to have a chance at second place after his team suffered a league-opening loss to San Marino on Sept. 20, 18-0. “Doubles is playing really well this week. I was really nervous last week and I guess it was just a slump because we’re playing really well today.”

While the score may suggest domination by La Cañada (6-4, 2-1 in league), a look at the set scores shows South Pasadena was a few games from keeping it close. Three sets ended in 7-5 scores, while two others ended at 6-4 and 6-3.

“The sets were close if you look at the score sheet — had we won some of those it changes the match,” South Pasadena Coach Jim Asher said. “We played them closely in a lot of sets and started a lot of sets in a winning position, but La Cañada kept coming back. We need to protect those leads and we weren’t able to do that today.”

The Tigers (3-6, 1-2 in league) also had three players out sick Thursday, including No. 2 singles player Karinna Loo. Freshman Symona Stans picked up both South Pas points in No. 1 singles, 6-4, 6-0, as the Spartans were undefeated in doubles for the second match in a row after defeating Temple City, 13-5, Tuesday.

La Cañada’s Alison Chang and Sharyse Watanabe won both their sets in No. 1 doubles, 6-2, 6-2, before being subbed out for Emily Matsuka and Erin McCoy (7-5).

“We’ve been doing really well,” Watanabe said. “We work really well together and I feel like I’ve had to step up a lot because I’m not really a doubles player, I’m a singles player. I prefer singles, but I am pretty comfortable playing with Ali.”

Watanabe has been key to the Spartans’ success in doubles recently. She was moved into No. 1 doubles from a substitute role in singles when Linnea Frazier, Chang’s partner to start the season and from 2011, dislocated her knee in a loss to Burbank on Sept. 14.

“Sharyse is filling in perfectly,” Moravec said. “She plays very aggressive and that mindset helps her out.”

The Spartans got a complete sweep from Emily Swanson and Serena Zheng, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Lynn Gilmour and Ana Dewar started in the final doubles spot for La Cañada and picked up a 7-5 win. Dewar played the next set with Carly Moore, 6-4, before they were taken out for Megan Knapp and Claire Huh, 7-5.

Sawa Keymeulen swept in singles, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0, while Sharon Kim (6-1, 6-1) and Suma Gudapati (6-1, 6-1) each won two sets.

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