The Southern Section Division I girls' tennis final Monday at the Claremont Club had it all--an amazing comeback, a premature celebration, a scintillating performance from a freshman--and finally a confusing 10-8 victory by second-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula over top-seeded and previously unbeaten Woodbridge.
Peninsula (23-1), which lost to Woodbridge, 11-7, in the regular season, won its seventh section tennis title in eight years. Woodbridge (23-1), which won the Division III title two years ago, has never won a girls' Division I title. But the Warriors came close.
Down, 9-3, in sets and, 58-48, in games after two rounds, Woodbridge fought back to win the next five sets and close Peninsula's lead to 9-8 in sets and 72-70 in games. Susanna Lingman, Woodbridge's No. 1 singles player who had lost only one set all year, led Peninsula's Shilpa Joshi, 3-2, as her teammate, Gloriann Lopez, was finishing off Brittany Fisher, 6-3.
Lingman fell behind, 4-3, however, and at the changeover, Coach Joan Willett told her she could not afford to lose another game. But Joshi, a freshman who had played doubles in the teams' first meeting, won the next game. As Joshi celebrated, so did her team.
But was the match really over?
Not exactly. Since Woodbridge trailed by just two games, a 7-5 victory by Lingman would have tied the game score at 77 and forced a super tiebreaker on all the courts. But Lingman played a loose service game and conceded the set when she called a Joshi lob good that appeared to be well beyond the baseline.
"I didn't know whether that last ball was in or not," Lingman said, "but at 3-5, I thought I had lost it. So I didn't think it mattered."
Peninsula's coaching staff also seemed surprised when they were informed they had celebrated early.
"We thought it was over, but we were going on six-game sets," Peninsula Coach Tom Cox said.
Even if Lingman knew the score, she would have had a difficult time winning the last four games against Joshi, who swept, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Joshi's biggest victory came in her first set against Woodbridge's No. 2 player, Adriana Hockicko. Hockicko led 5-3, 40-15, but couldn't put Joshi away. Joshi won the tiebreaker, 9-7, despite blowing three set points.
Lingman, who won her other two sets, 6-1, 6-1, said she didn't remember Joshi being such a tough player. "I wasn't very smart," Lingman said.