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GIRLS' TENNIS

Lin, Nelson Stand to Gain From Their Budding Rivalry

October 17, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Judging by the trash-talking, shot-making, tension-filled set between Canyon's Tracy Lin and Villa Park's Lindsey Nelson last week, it appears there is a legitimate and, yes, bitter rivalry brewing.

Is that good for tennis and are these freshmen good for each other? Probably. Were John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors good for the sport and for each other? Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras?

About an hour before Nelson and Lin squared off, Mike Nelson, Lindsey's father and coach, spoke of how each player could benefit from one another.

"They should use each other to go to the next level," he said. "It could push them ahead of everybody. They should look at this rivalry as a positive."

Nelson said he had a similar rival when he was a young player.

"I didn't have to be best friends with him," Nelson said. "But boy, did I need him to become a better player."

Nelson and Lin are clearly not the best of friends as evidenced by the glares, the muttering between points and the postgame comments. After the set, which Lin won in a tiebreaker, neither seemed too willing to give her opponent much credit or respect.

"It was nothing that she did," Lindsey Nelson said. "I just had an off day all together. I was flustered. She came out playing very well and I wasn't ready. I couldn't get my rhythm."

Lin, even in victory, was still angry about one of Nelson's line calls.

"I couldn't let her beat me, not after that call," she said. "I was so mad."

Although they live only a few miles apart, Nelson and Lin rarely hit with each other. And though they are less than a year apart, they had met only four times before last Tuesday, with Nelson winning all four.

The meetings in junior tournaments have been rare because Nelson and Lin usually play in different age divisions. This summer, Nelson played girls' 16 tournaments, while Lin played her last year of the 14s. Next summer, Nelson has indicated she will probably play the 18s while Lin plays the 16s.

But as long as Lin and Nelson continue to play for their high school teams, they will meet at least twice a season in league play, possibly four times if they face off in the Century League and Southern Section individual tournaments.

SHOWDOWN FOR NO. 1

The matchup between top-ranked Corona del Mar (13-2) and second-ranked Dana Hills (10-2) will finally take place at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Corona del Mar High. The teams were scheduled to meet a month ago, but Corona del Mar Coach Andy Stewart postponed the match so he could have his full team available.

At the time of the originally scheduled match, the Sea Kings were missing their No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, Brittany Reitz and Kim Singer. Reitz was not yet eligible because she had transferred from St. Margaret's and Singer was injured.

But both players will be in Stewart's singles lineup Wednesday along with No. 1 Anne Yelsey. Now that his lineup is complete, Stewart likes his chances against the Dolphins, who defeated Corona del Mar last year on games.

"I'm going to have three great singles players and Leslie Damion and Brittany Holland playing No. 1 doubles," Stewart said. "We'll be so top heavy in singles, it'll be tough to beat us. I want to win by a lot. We've got everybody back, so let's see how good we are."

Of course, Stewart wouldn't have been nearly as confident if the match had taken place last month.

"I know Jim Wilson [the Dana Hills coach] would rather play us when we're at our best," Stewart said. "It's good for them. They get to play a tough team late in the season. And it's nice for us; we'll get pushed tomorrow."

With Corona del Mar playing in the Southern Section Division IV playoffs this season, this might be the last time the Sea Kings get pushed.

"I assume if Dana Hills was playing Division IV, they'd probably win it," Stewart said.

Reitz, who becomes eligible this week, will make her debut today against eighth-ranked Laguna Beach (8-4) in a Pacific Coast League match. Reitz, a junior, won the Matador Junior tournament at Northridge in the girls' 18 division two weeks ago.

Reitz has been competing in the Southern California girls' 18 division for three years, but she will probably play No. 2 singles for Corona del Mar when Yelsey, a sophomore, is in the singles lineup.

"Brittany is a good, player, but she's not so hooked up on what number she's playing," Stewart said. "I'm sure I'll play Anne at 1 since she's been playing there all year."

If you have an item or idea for the tennis report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at david.mckibben@latimes.com

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