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Girls tennis: All aboard Sailors' ship

September 11, 2001

Richard Dunn

NEWPORT BEACH - With the lack of a marquee player this season,

Newport Harbor High's girls tennis team might not get the attention of

other highly regarded CIF Southern Section schools.

But Coach Fletcher Olson's Sailors could be one of the best overall

"teams" in 2001 with their entire starting nine coming back from last

year's squad that reached the CIF Division III finals.

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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

championship.

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.

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