Newport Harbor, along with Division III champion Palm Desert, moves to
Division II this year.
"We'd just like to go to one of these (CIF divisional) finals and
win," said Olson, whose team lost to top-seeded Palm Desert in the
Division II finals last year, 12-6, and to perennial national power
Peninsula in the 1999 Division I title match at the Claremont Club.
The Sailors, who finished 18-7 last year against the toughest
competition anywhere in the Southern Section, also reached the Division I
championship match in 1993 and '96. They are consistently among the top
teams in Orange County.
"I think the girls coming in are a lot stronger than they were last
year, but it will be a tough year," said Olson, who, entering her seventh
year as head coach, has never enjoyed a campaign in which every starter
returns. "One year we had eight players back ... but I think it's going
to be a tough season, because everybody we play is tough. Everybody we
play is going to be a challenge."
Newport Harbor, which plays at Sunny Hills in the season opener
Wednesday, is a balanced squad featuring six players who can play singles
or doubles, led by seniors Kelly Nelson, Megan Hawkins and Carmen Khoury.
Newport Harbor's preleague schedule also includes University (Sept.
18), Edison (Sept. 20), Peninsula (Sept. 25), Capistrano Valley, Corona
del Mar and Laguna Beach, while trying to win the Sea View League
The Sailors, ranked fifth in the Southland preseason poll by the Los
Angeles Times, will square off against Sea View power Woodbridge on Oct.
9 at home and Oct. 25 on the road. Woodbridge, which moves from Division
II to Division III, returns all three doubles teams, as well as junior
standout Elizabeth Exon.
"We're playing in the Corona del Mar National High School All-American
Tournament (Oct. 5-6), too," said Olson, whose lineup will also include
junior Krista McIntosh and sophomores Vanessa Dunlap and Bonnie Adams.
Nelson, Hawkins, Khoury, McIntosh, Dunlap and Adams can play singles
at any time, while senior Erika Buder is expected to be one of Olson's
top doubles players.