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Newport Harbor Struggles but Slips Past Mater Dei

November 17, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Nothing has come easy for the Newport Harbor girls' tennis team this season. So it wasn't surprising that the youthful Sailors blew a big early lead and made Coach Fletcher Olson sweat out a 10-8 victory over second-seeded Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division III semifinals Thursday at Newport Harbor.

The Sailors (17-6) led, 7-1, midway through the second round, but needed a late 10-8 tiebreaker victory by the No. 2 doubles team of Erika Buder and Carmen Khoury to clinch the match.

"I was not taking a nap when we went up 7-1," Olson said. "Almost every match has been close."

Close or not, the Sailors are going to their second section final in a row and third in seven years. Fourth-seeded Newport Harbor, which lost to Palos Verdes Peninsula in last year's Division I final, will meet top-seeded Palm Desert at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Claremont Club. Mater Dei fell to 16-4.

Natalie Braverman, the No. 1 singles player on last year's team, decided not to play high school tennis this year and seven other players graduated. Newport Harbor's starting lineup Thursday consisted of four juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen.

"We were coming in thinking it was a building year," Olson said. "But the kids worked hard and they listened. They've earned this."

The victory was keyed by the Sailors' doubles teams, which won seven of nine sets. Megan Hawkins and Krista McIntosh won all three sets by 6-1 scores. Buder and Khoury won two of three, as did freshmen Bonnie Adams and A.J. Olson. In the third round, Olson and Adams upset the Monarchs' No. 1 team of Orla Petirs and Stacey Roe.

Mater Dei's comeback was led by its singles lineup of Jodie Nygaard, Casey Knutson and Carolina Velasco. Knutson swept, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, Nygaard won twice and Velasco once.

"We usually get off to a faster start," Knutson said. "It's tough to come back from the kind of deficit we had."

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