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Yelsey wins Easter title

April 20, 2003

If Corona del Mar High senior Anne Yelsey were looking for validation

about the intense preparation she was putting into her future with

the Stanford tennis program, she got it in a big way this week.

Yelsey, who missed the first half of her final prep campaign with

a knee injury, proved she is all the way back, maybe even better than

ever, by defeating Mary Gambale, 6-4, 7-5, Saturday to claim the 18s

singles crown at the Easter Bowl junior tennis championships at

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Riviera Resort Racquet Club.

Yelsey also teamed with Riza Zalameda from Los Angeles to win the

tournament's 18s doubles title Friday.

"This is the biggest tournament I've ever won," Yelsey said by

phone while returning from Palm Springs Saturday. "I've won a couple

national opens, but there are only four junior supernationals and,

I'd say, the Easter Bowl, ranks in the top two."

Yelsey cited conditioning, a big emphasis since her high school

season ended, as a big factor in her success this week.

"It took me about three months to get better after I hurt my knee

in August," she said. "I've been working on my fitness and trying to

stay healthy. I just feel a lot better and I am a lot stronger.

"At the beginning of [2003], I decided I was going to spend the

rest of the year getting ready for [college]. I'm going to a great

school and a great tennis program and I wanted to give myself the

best chance of being able to play there. My goal is improve and earn

my spot. I think this shows me I'm on my way."

In singles, Yelsey was the No. 9 seed. She opened with a 6-1, 6-2

triumph over Monica Wiesener from Calabasas, then advanced to the

quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 17-seeded Melissa Mang of

Metairie, La. in the Round of 16.

She fought off No. 5-seeded Jessica Nguyen from Chatsworth, 7-5,

7-5, in the quarterfinals, then rallied past No. 14-seeded Vania King

from Long Beach, 0-6, 6-3, 6-1, in Friday's semifinal.

"I wasn't playing badly, but I was playing her game," Yelsey said

of her match against King. "I finally started mixing it up, slicing

the ball and hitting hard topspin. That was my plan going in, it just

took me the first set to get into it."

Gambale, from Billerica, Mass., was the No. 4 seed. Gambale had

knocked off top-seeded Alexandra Podkolzina, 6-1, 6-1, in the

semifinals.

It was the not only the supernationals singles title for Yelsey,

but the first time she had advanced to the Round of 16.

The road to the doubles title was slightly smoother for Yelsey and

her partner, with whom she has now won four national titles.

Yelsey-Zalameda, the No. 1 seed, defeated Christina and Janet Kim

from Palisades Park, N.J., 6-0, 6-2 in the first round, then topped

Caitlin Collins (Lawrence, Kan.) and Jenna Long (Fremont), 6-2, 6-0,

in the Round of 16.

In the quarterfinal, Yelsey-Zalameda earned a 7-5, 6-2 win over

unseeded Celia Darkin and Erica Sauer from Somis, Calif., then

advanced to the title match with a 6-4, 7-5 semifinal win over

Sabrina Capannolo (Las Vegas) and Sylvia Kosakowski (Downey).

"Winning the doubles [title] Friday was a big confidence boost,"

said Yelsey, who was gratified by some strong crowd support in her

singles final Saturday. "A lot of people were on my side [Saturday],

which really helped. "

Yelsey, the Pacific Coast League singles champion in 2000, was the

PCL singles runner-up in 2001 and teamed with freshman sister Rachel

to finish second in doubles in the PCL last fall.

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