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Teams to Watch

September 30, 2000


The defending Southern Section Division IV champions played division runner-up San Marino and 1999 Division III champion Harvard-Westlake in recent nonleague matches in order to get an idea where they stand. Consider Calabasas at the top of its game. The Coyotes (9-0, 0-0) return six players from last season, including No. 1 player Erin Everly and a strong doubles team in Jackie Yano and Andrea Leewong. They've added top junior-circuit players Celia Durkin and Monica Wiesener.


With a lineup that includes senior Stephanie Berg and Nicole Barshop, juniors Jessica Leck and and Katelyn Rader, and sophomores Zelda Harris, Molly McLucas and Shilpa Madhavan, the Wolverines are as strong as any team in the region. Kelly Rudolph, a former No. 4 singles player and No. 3 doubles player at UCLA, is the team's fourth coach in five years. Harvard-Westlake, which won the Division III title last season but will compete in Division IV this year, has struggled with a tough schedule. The Wolverines (1-3, 0-0) have beaten San Marino but lost to Calabasas, defending Division I champion Peninsula and Division II semifinalist Beverly Hills.


The Highlanders (4-0, 1-0) have Coach Ron Wood wishing his team played in the Southern Section, the better to test his City Section champions against top competition. One look at his lineup and it's easy to see why. The Highlanders went unbeaten last year and return seven players, including Jasmin Dao, The Times' 1999 regional player of the year, and City doubles champions Shannon Slotnick and Caryn Linder. They have added freshman Christine Dao, Jasmin's sister and a top-20 player in the girls' 14 division in Southern California.


Westlake has won 15 league championships in 22 years, including the last two Marmonte League titles. The league is down this year, but the Warriors (6-3, 4-0) appear to have seized the advantage again. No. 1 player Jessica Blau has been in and out of the lineup because of recurring knee and shoulder injuries. But five others return from a squad that advanced to the 1999 Division III quarterfinals. The No. 1 doubles team of Lauren Baer and Lindsay Weiss (19-2) went 59-10 and were Marmonte League doubles runners-up last year.


Freshmen Daron Moore and Cheyenne Reveche give the Vikings (5-1, 1-0) one of the strongest 1-2 punches in the region and a shot at Delphic League and Division V titles. Campbell Hall also has solid Emily Bruckner at No. 3 singles, and two returning doubles teams in seniors Bri Delamarter and Elenna Vanerian at No. 1 and Christine Berberian and Rubina Andonian at No. 2.


The Bulldogs have a new coach, Steve Starleaf, new home courts at the Burbank Tennis Center, which Starleaf runs, and some not-so-new, unbeaten players in juniors Olga Yepremian and Veronica Irrinco. With Yepremian, a three-year varsity player, at No. 1 singles, and Irrinco at No. 2, the Bulldogs (5-2, 2-0) have gotten a jump on most of the competition in the Foothill League.


Coach Rob Wickwire, a master at juggling his lineup, is getting a lot out of his players again. The Pioneers (8-2, 4-0) have moved into contention with Westlake for the Marmonte League title, thanks to No. 1 player Stacy Gunawan, freshman No. 2 Melissa Hoang and versatile Cathrine Caballero and Maria Espinoza, who have played singles and doubles.


The Chargers (4-3, 3-2) have suffered costly losses in league play to Westlake and Simi Valley, but are capable of rebounding with a mixture of youth and experience. Freshman Yassi Entekhabi , senior Leah Kirsch and freshman Maggie Cahil provide skill and depth in singles. Four-year varsity player Casey Ruby and Shelby Feely at No. 1 doubles, and Elissa Reizman and Stephanie Houseal at No. 2 doubles lend strength to the lineup.


Singles players Katie Callaghan, Alyssa Halcomb and Catherine Hillman have sparked the Seraphs (6-1, 1-0), who opened Tri-Valley League play with a key victory over talented but struggling La Reina (3-6, 1-1).


Sisters Marisa and Melanie Gilbert, and Michelle and Erica Levy have turned the season into a family affair. The Gilbert twins are freshmen, and Marisa has taken over at No. 1 singles for the Eagles (7-2, 1-0). Natalie Jacobs plays No. 2 singles, and Ali Meisel, Erica Levy's former partner at No. 1 doubles, has moved to No. 3 singles. Erica Levy is a four-year No. 1 doubles player teaming with Devin Hindin, a transfer from Calabasas. Melanie Gilbert plays No. 3 doubles with freshman Michelle Levy.

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