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Sage wants another CIF championship

November 20, 2006|By Matt Szabo

Sage Hill School girls' tennis coach A.G. Longoria said the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship match will be a war.

As such, Longoria is happy to have seven battle-tested seniors when the Lightning meet Valencia today at 1:30 p.m. at the Claremont Club.

Both teams may feel at times like they'll be looking into a mirror. Both the Lightning and the Tigers are 23-1. Sage Hill's only defeat came to Division I top seed Corona del Mar, while Valencia has only fallen to Troy. CdM and Troy, the No. 3 seed, are the two teams in the Division I final.

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Like No. 1-seeded Sage Hill, No. 2-seeded Valencia is also experienced, with nine seniors.

"Our teams are so similar," Longoria said. "We're definitely the class acts of Division IV."

Sage Hill brings three solid singles players to the table in seniors Sarah Geocaris and Stephanie Langer and sophomore Ashley Adams. The trio combined to go 98-8 in Academy League play for the three-time league-champion Lightning.

At No. 1 doubles, senior Alle Hsu and sophomore Jaclyn Smrecek went 36-0 in league doubles play and 40-2 overall. They also haven't lost in the postseason thus far, going 12-0.

Seniors Salen Andrews and Carissa Cummings went 32-0 in Academy League play. Although Cummings has been recently sidelined due to a shoulder injury — Raya Tasker filled in admirably — she is now back at full strength.

Sage's No. 3 doubles team of senior Erica Spivack and junior Brina Dokich went 24-2 in league.

Valencia won its semifinal against Rio Mesa, 14-4. The Tigers are led by Stephanie Hammel and Sarah Blair in singles. But the Eagles haven't advanced to the CIF championship match in over 10 years, while Sage won the Division V title last year.

"We've been there before, and this is the first year for all of their players," Longoria said. "We hope that plays to our advantage."

But win or lose, he said the Lightning won't be intimidated, even against an opponent they haven't yet faced this season. The Lightning had a tough preseason schedule, beating Division I teams, including Mater Dei and defending Division I champion Laguna Beach.

"I hope all of that preparation pays off [today]," Longoria said.

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