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Granada Hills Loses Close One to Carson in Girls' Title Match


ENCINO — The teams were the same, most of the players' names were unchanged, the situation down the stretch was nearly identical.

Even the final score was the same. Only this time, Granada Hills High was on the losing end to Carson, 4-3, in the City Section championship girls' tennis match on Friday afternoon at Balboa Recreation Center.

"It's just like last year. Just go back to last year," said Granada Hills No. 1 player Jasmin Dao, who stood on a bench, watching the tense ending to the Highlanders' third consecutive title-match performance, their second in a row against the Colts.

"I'm very disappointed. It was pretty tough," Dao said. "I thought we had a good chance of winning, but that's just the way it went."

Things went downhill for the Highlanders after Dao's sister, No. 2 singles player Christine Dao, suffered a hairline fracture of the left ankle when she fell awkwardly while running down a ball in the first game of her second set against Cielo Domingo.

Christine, a freshman, led Domingo, 6-0, but was forced to retire because of the injury.

"I wanted to win it for my team," Christine said before being taken to Northridge Hospital for X-rays. "I was up for it. I thought I was playing pretty well. When I fell, I just felt bad for the team."

The Highlanders (16-1) could have used the point Dao seemed likely to win.

When Carson's Judith De Vera defeated Jasmin Dao, 7-5, 6-3, the match was tied, 3-3, with only the No. 2 doubles match to be completed.

"I was kind of aware of the other matches around me," said De Vera, who defeated Dao in last year's team final and for third place in the 1999 City Section individual tournament. "I knew I had to win my match."

When she did, Granada Hills' doubles team of Andrea Blieden and Tracey Takeshita had to win to pull off the match.

They got off to a good start, winning their first set against Kay Lozano and Ann Buan, 6-2. But the Carson pair took the second set, 6-4.

It was just like last year, when Granada Hills' No. 1 team of Shannon Slotnick and Caryn Linder needed three sets to defeat Carson's Maria Domingo and Lynn Zabala in the last match of the day.

This time, Blieden and Takeshita took a 2-0 lead in the third set, only to have Lozano and Buan tie the score, 2-2, and then break the Granada Hills duo for a 3-2 edge.

Granada Hills broke back for a 3-3 deadlock, but Lozano and Buan went ahead, 5-3, and hung on to clinch the victory for Carson (17-0).

"It was awesome," Carson second-year Coach Gordon Emi said. "You've got to give [Granada Hills] credit."

Blieden stood on the court in tears after the loss, her first this season with Takeshita.

"It's all on you. It's the most awful thing in the world," Blieden said.

North Hollywood 5, Venice 2--North Hollywood (15-4) won three of four singles matches and two of three doubles matches to claim the City Invitational title at the Balboa Recreation Center.

North Hollywood's Chi Phan won her 15th consecutive match, defeating Kristen Wong, 7-5, 6-1, at No. 4 singles.

Venice finished 12-5.

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