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Palm Desert Gets Early Advantage to Defeat Dana Hills


CLAREMONT — Dana Hills Coach John Stephens knew as soon as it happened it was a major blow.

His doubles' team of Margaux Pierog and Brook Calton had just lost their opening-round match of the Southern Section Division II girls' tennis finals.

"That was a big loss," Stephens said after the set. "That one could hurt us in the end."

Unfortunately, for the Dolphins, it did.

After battling back from a 7-5 second-round deficit, Dana Hills tied the score 9-9, but became Palm Desert's third upset victim when the Aztecs won the title on games, 75-72, at the Claremont Club.

"As good as Margaux and Brook can be," Stephens said, "they just didn't have it today. They played nervous today."

Stephens went with the same lineup that got him to the finals with a 12-6 semifinal victory over Santa Maria Righetti on Monday. He moved Pierog from singles to strengthen his doubles and put Karlie Noyes in the No. 3 singles spot. Against Righetti, the move gave him a sweep in doubles. On Tuesday, it fell just short, as the doubles teams won seven of nine sets and the singles were able to pick up only two sets.

"You have to go with what you think are your best shots. There is no guarantee Margaux would have won any sets in singles," Stephens said. "Basically, it just wasn't there today. They outplayed us."

En route to its second section title, unseeded and unbeaten Palm Desert upset second-seeded Villa Park, third-seeded Mater Dei and top-seeded Dana Hills.

Dana Hills (19-3), which lost in last year's quarterfinals to Woodbridge, looked as if it might come back.

Summer Tantee gutted out a tough second-round set, defeating Bibiana Medkova, 7-5, after being down a break, 2-3. The Dolphins then swept all three doubles' teams to take an 8-7 lead.

It came down to the final three singles matches.

Noyes lost, 3-6, to the Aztecs' top player Jennifer Baker, who swept, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

With the score tied, 8-8, sophomore Lauren Richardson played her best set before falling to Medkova, 4-6.

With Tantee leading Laurie Cheung, 5-3, everyone began tallying the game scores, and no matter what Tantee did from that point on, the victory was Palm Desert's.

Dana Hills' only sweep of the day, came in doubles, as Amy Tranckino and Christie Manning won, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. Kate Romm and Janae Wilson-Hayden finished, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. Pierog and Calton won, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

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