Hilary Barte knew she would be hard-pressed to top the stunning comeback victory she staged against Cosmina Ciobanu in the semifinals of the Southern Section individual tennis tournament.
But the top-seeded junior from North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake defeated defending tournament champion Maggie Mello of Mission Viejo, 7-5, 7-5, to win the section singles title Friday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
Barte, a left-hander, painted the lines more accurately and consistently to outlast Mello, a right-handed junior. A three-time Mission League champion, Barte posted a 42-1 record in sets for the season and became the second Harvard-Westlake player to win the singles title.
Marissa Irvin won the championship in her only season of high school tennis in 1997.
Barte's championship win came on the heels of a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 semifinal decision over Ciobanu, a Fullerton Troy senior who led, 5-0, in the second set. The championship also made up for a semifinal loss to Mello last year.
"That's probably the best comeback I've ever had," Barte said. "I was like, 'You can't go any lower than that,' and I just came back and played."
Mello, who was unbeaten until Friday, advanced to the final with a 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Long Beach Millikan freshman Mimi Nguyen.
The Laguna Beach team of senior Claire Rietsch and junior Lyndsay Kinstler won the doubles title with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula's Tania Mahtani and Akane Kitamura.
Sophomore guard Malik Story scored 21 points, making five of 10 three-point shots, to lead Lakewood Artesia to a 69-56 victory over Los Angeles Fairfax, the top-ranked team in the Southland by The Times, in a semifinal of the Redondo tournament.
Story also had six rebounds and five assists and senior guard Derek Glasser finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for No. 5 Artesia (3-0). Fairfax (2-1) was led by junior guard JaShon Hampton with 18 points.