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OCC returns to state finals

May 10, 2006|By Matt Szabo

COSTA MESA -- After nearly six hours in the California Community College state women's tennis semifinals, it all came down to a third-set tiebreaker.

Orange Coast College's Jaleh Mazaheri and Julie Haley proved up to the challenge, winning the tiebreaker, 7-2, to give the Pirates a 5-4 victory over Grossmont College on Tuesday. The Southern California champion Pirates will defend their state title noon Thursday at the Claremont Club against Northern California champion Santa Rosa.

"They were able to withstand all that pressure, and that's just great," said OCC Coach Janice Maran. "I'm so proud of them. We won the state last year, but we had a really good team. This year, I didn't know they could be as competitive as they were to get to this point."

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But first, Orange Coast had to get past Grossmont, which won three consecutive state titles from 2002-04. The Griffins were also out for revenge after OCC beat them earlier in the year in a nonconference match.

It wasn't easy this time around, as the teams split the six singles sets, 3-3. Mazaheri and Haley both picked up singles wins, and OCC No. 1 singles player Jessica Rice topped Grossmont's Yui Shimizu ? who won the Southern California individual regional last Saturday ? in three tough sets.

The Pirates almost went up, 4-2, but No. 6 singles player Shauna Durbin lost a three-set marathon that took more than three hours to complete.

With Durbin's loss, OCC knew it had to win two of the three doubles matches for a chance to defend its crown.

Rice and Emily Paulson put Orange Coast one match away by easily ousting Shimizu and Alyse Tyson, 6-3, 6-2. In the process, they avenged a loss to the same team in the Southern California regional doubles final just three days earlier.

"We said the second we lost on Saturday that 'OK, we're going to get them on Tuesday,'" Rice said. "I don't think we played our best on Saturday, so we came out here today and wanted it more. Maybe it's better that we lost on Saturday, because we were more aggressive today."

After K.D. Doran and Chelsea Metcalf fell in two sets ? tying the match score at 4-4 ? all eyes fell to Mazaheri and Haley's match against Anne-Marie Leistikow and Brianna McClintock. The Pirates duo lost the first set, 6-4, but came back to take the second, forcing a third set that would decide everything.

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