La Cañada High's Ally McKenzie sees individual run come to a close

Ally McKenzie arrived at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte on Tuesday ready to resume play in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament.

Unfortunately for the standout La Cañada High junior singles player, she arrived in pain after sustaining an abdominal strain while competing in a national tournament in Northern California.

McKenzie couldn’t escape the pain Tuesday during her round of 20 match against Sophia Whittle of Arroyo Grande and saw her bid to extend her season cut short as Whittle rallied to post a 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory in a match that took more than three hours to complete.

“I played in 10 matches over the weekend and I suffered the strain,” said McKenzie, who won the Rio Hondo League singles championship. “I felt a sharp pain throughout my match Tuesday and it affected the way I could compete.

“I tried to fight through it. It was a very long match and I wish I had more energy. [Whittle] is a very good player.”

McKenzie advanced to Tuesday’s round after posting a pair of victories Nov. 25 at the Claremont Club.

After winning the first set Tuesday, McKenzie said she began to encounter pain while serving.

“Power is essential to my game,” said McKenzie, who helped La Cañada take second in league before it advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. “I had it early on and then I lost it during a lot of my serves.”

La Cañada Coach Will Moravec said McKenzie, who became the first Spartan to win a league singles championship since 2001, couldn’t shake off the pain.

“She was able to hit her ground strokes OK,” Moravec said. “When it came to serving, it was pretty tough for her.

“When you are serving, you have to arch your back and then following through puts more pressure on it. She hits the ball so hard, but she couldn’t hit balls as hard today. She lost her serve early in the second set and she was fighting the rest of the way trying to break serve. The girl she played against is no slouch.”

McKenzie said she was satisfied with her first season with the Spartans.

“I think I did a lot of good things,” McKenzie said. “My goal is to come back even stronger next season.”

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