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Event Defaulted Into State Matchup

October 10, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

The event last weekendat the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club was called the National High School Tennis All-American tournament. In reality, it was probably about as close as California will come to a state high school girls' tennis tournament.

Because of scheduling and traveling issues with other state federations, no teams from outside the state could accept invitations, leaving tournament director Tim Mang with most of the elite girls' teams in California.

It was the kind of matchup that many said they wanted to see again--if only CIF guidelines, politics, and the sheer number of teams involved could be easily navigated.

"This is it," said Mang, the Corona del Mar boys' coach. "This solves all the politics for the CIF. We'd love to have a state tournament, but there's so many rules."

Not to mention 10 sections, and all the divisions within the sections.

"I'd call this the state championship," said Atherton Menlo Coach Bill Shine, the Northern California champion the past two years. "Northern California wants to have a state championship. But . . . we only have one division. It's a lot easier. If there were only one division down here, it would take only one more match."

Not exactly. The Southern California champion would still have to be determined between the Central, Southern and San Diego sections, and that would take at least a few more matches.

Tom Cox, whose Palos Verdes Peninsula girls have dominated the Southern Section over the last decade, agrees that it's "the closest we can get" to a state tournament.

But he's not sold on the event's format, which uses a system similar to college tennis of six singles and three doubles points. Each singles player may also play doubles, which means only six players are needed for a match.

In Southern Section matches, a minimum of nine players are needed for a round-robin format of three singles players competing in three sets and three doubles teams playing three sets. Total points available: 18.

"The format is so different [at the All-American]," Cox said. "I'm not sure it really tells who the best team is. My strength is my depth and that is negated in this format."

That was proven true in the final, during which Beverly Hills defeated Peninsula, 5-4. Less than a week earlier, Peninsula crushed Beverly Hills, 17-1, in a Bay League match. Of course, that score would have been closer if Beverly Hills' top two players had showed for the match.

Cox and other coaches also didn't like the one-set format used in the All-American.

"I'd like to see at least eight-game pro sets decide these matches," Cox said. "I know it's tough, but how much time would it have taken to play two more games?"

Maybe more than the private clubs--Balboa Bay and Palisades, which donated their courts over the weekend--had to offer.

"You wouldn't believe how hard it is getting these courts on a Saturday when members of these clubs want to play," Mang said.

Not everyone was critical of the college-style format. In fact, Corona del Mar's No. 1 singles player, Anne Yelsey, wouldn't mind seeing the Southern Section adopt a form of the college system.

"I'd rather play this format with two of three sets," Yelsey said. "That way, I'd only play the other team's No. 1 player and I wouldn't have to rotate and face the second and third singles players. I'm trying to say this nicely, but the competition would be better."

The competition and the atmosphere couldn't have been better for Andy Stewart, Corona del Mar's coach, Saturday afternoon at Balboa Bay for the semifinals.

"This is intense," Stewart said during his team's 7-2 semifinal loss to Beverly Hills.

"I wish the CIF could do something like this. Have a tennis day, where the best four teams are playing."


Canyon freshman Tracy Lin pulled the upset of her life Friday in her team's second-round match at the All-American tournament. She blanked San Marino senior Luana Magnani, 6-0, and scored her team's only point in the first round.

But Lin wishes she could enjoy her victory over last year's Southern Section individual singles champion a little more.

"I think she was hurt," Lin said. "And she was making sure everybody knew. I'd still like to play her when she's at the top of her game."

Lin, the No. 1 ranked 14-year-old in Southern California, has yet to lose a set this season.

"That's because I haven't played anybody that's challenging yet," she said. But that will change today when she her sixth-ranked team travels to Villa Park, which is led by another undefeated freshman, Lindsey Nelson.


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