Laguna Beach is favored to win its fourth consecutive Southern Section Division II girls' tennis title at 9:30 a.m. today at the Claremont Club, but not by much.
The Artists (20-3) play an undefeated Villa Park team that has shown the ability to play under pressure. The second-seeded Spartans have won their last two matches on games over Diamond Bar and Calabasas.
The Spartans (19-0) are led by Faye DeVera (51-0 in dual matches), but they have gotten big contributions lately from No. 2 singles player Katey Becker (44-4) and the No. 3 doubles team of Ami Moran and Clair Gries. In a 71-70 victory over Calabasas, Moran and Gries won a set, 6-0. The No. 1 doubles team of Susan Shaw and Anny Chien have been slumping lately but they will probably have to win at least two sets for Villa Park to pull off an upset.
"We're hoping for five points from our singles, and five points from our doubles would be tremendous," Villa Park Coach Sue Gardiner said. "They're very aggressive in doubles so we have to be also. We can't win from the baseline. They're too tough up there."
Gardiner realizes she is asking a lot of her team.
"I think it would be an upset if we won," she said. "They're seeded ahead of us. I watched them on Saturday [at the Huntington Beach individual sectionals] and they're very good."
Laguna Beach Coach Bob Walton said many people didn't expect his team to be this good.
"The goal for us was to get back to Claremont," Walton said. "I think some people thought we weren't going to be able to get back there."
El Dorado also is in the finals again, against third-seeded Hemet. The Golden Hawks lost to Pasadena Poly in the Division III title match last year, but they returned most of their top players and have lost only once in 24 matches.