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Doubles Trigger Peninsula Rally

November 20, 2001|Lauren Peterson and Ben Bolch

Palos Verdes Peninsula High has won plenty of girls' tennis titles before, but never needed the uphill climb it made Monday to beat Dana Hills in the Southern Section Division I championship match at the Claremont Club.

The top-seeded Panthers needed victories in their last three doubles sets to secure a 10-8 victory and a fourth consecutive section title.

Even their coach, Tom Cox, had his doubts.

"I didn't think we were going to win all three of them," he said.

Peninsula pulled out tiebreakers in two of the sets as it rallied in dramatic fashion for its 10th title in 11 years.

"This is probably one of the most remarkable victories [in the string of championships], considering we were playing from behind," Cox said. "The girls showed a lot of guts."

Peninsula (27-2) was in a hole from the start after singles standout Shilpa Joshi twisted her right ankle four games into her match against Kady Pooler and failed to win a game.

Dana Hills (21-6), bidding to become the first team to defeat the Panthers in a title match since Corona del Mar in 1997, led, 4-2, after the first round.

And even though Joshi rebounded to win her next set, Dana Hills still led, 7-5, after the second round.

"I was just a little bit nervous, and when [the injury] happened, I was flustered," Joshi said.

"But I knew if I could get it taped that I could play."

Even with her ankle tightly wrapped, Joshi required pain relievers before her third set, a 6-1 victory.

But Dana Hills still had an 8-7 lead with three doubles sets to go.

That's when the Peninsula tandems of Macall Harkins and Christina Jackson, and Stephanie Stearns and Paige Weber stepped up. Harkins and Jackson won their set, 7-6 (2), and Stearns and Weber won theirs, 7-6 (7).

"We just needed to focus on every point, one point at a time," Weber said.

The doubles wins clinched the match by putting the Panthers comfortably ahead on games, but Peninsula's Nikki LaBrucherie and Danielle Holt completed the comeback with another stirring come-from-behind victory.

In other section championship matches:

Beverly Hills 10, Irvine Woodbridge 8--Riza Zalameda swept her singles sets as the top-seeded Normans (19-4) edged the second-seeded Warriors (20-8) to win Division III. It was Beverly Hills' second consecutive section title. The Normans won Division II last year.

Zalameda defeated Woodbridge's top singles player, Elizabeth Exon, 6-4, after trailing early.

Zalameda took control of the set by winning the last three games, capping the victory with a devastating cross-court forehand winner. "We just toughed it out today," Zalameda said.

Woodbridge won one of the more compelling sets when the doubles team of Sara Besharati and Ashley Williams reeled off the last 11 points to rally for a 7-6 (0) victory over Irina Shet and Anne Litovskaya.

Ben Bolch


Corona del Mar 13, Palm Desert 5--Brittany Reitz surrendered only three games while sweeping three sets, and Corona del Mar (26-1) won its second consecutive Division IV championship.

Reitz beat Robyn Baker, 6-3; Vicky Graff-Redford, 6-0; and Chelsea Stone, 6-0.

The Sea Kings' top doubles team of Leslie Damion and Taylynn Snyder also won in three sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1, as Corona del Mar led from the start.

Baker, No. 4 in Southern California in the U.S. Tennis Assn. girls' 16 rankings, defeated Corona del Mar's top player, Anne Yelsey, who is ranked No. 6 in girls' 16s and No. 19 in girls' 18s.


Laguna Beach 12, Chadwick 6--Danielle Schulman and Jackie Reed did not give up a game in winning three sets at No. 1 doubles for Laguna Beach (16-8), which won its fourth consecutive Division V title by defeating previously unbeaten Chadwick (19-1).

Laguna Beach also got sweeps from Lindsey Butterwick and Camerin Barron-Sandman in singles.

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