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Sailors still in the mix

TENNIS: Harbor’s league title hopes hurt by loss Monday, but team still controls its own destiny in playoff race.

April 22, 2008|By Matt Szabo

SEAL BEACH — Seven days from now, the Newport Harbor High boys’ tennis team will know its postseason fate.

But after Monday’s 10-8 loss to Los Alamitos at the Seal Beach Tennis Center, the picture couldn’t be cloudier.

The Sailors’ goal of winning the Sunset League may be slipping away. Marina can clinch the outright title with a win today against Esperanza.

Returning to the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs may not be such a bad consolation prize for Newport Harbor, but even that’s not in the bag yet.

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With two league matches remaining, Marina (7-1 in league) holds a two-match lead. The Sailors, Griffins and Fountain Valley are all tied for second at 5-3.

Only three teams typically advance to the playoffs from the league, magnifying the importance of everymatch.

Coach Kristen Case knows it, especially with her team playing at Fountain Valley today and at home against Marina on Monday. That’s why she told her players after losing to Los Alamitos that they need to come into matches with more intensity.

The Griffins (8-8) outscored the Sailors (7-5) in each of the first two rounds, taking a 8-4 lead.

“It’s hard once you’re starting to play catch-up,” Case said. “...They have to be more aware of when they show up. I tell them, ‘You have to show up when you set foot in the parking lot of where you’re playing.’ You don’t show up in the warmup, or show up in the first game of the set. You have to show up right when you get on-site. That’s when the preparation should begin.”

The No. 1 doubles team of Daron Arnold and Cameron Chase appeared prepared, as the juniors swept their matches. At No. 1 singles, senior John Hutchinson won two of his three matches, losing only to the Griffins’ Derek Siddiqui.

But Los Alamitos, which lost, 12-6, in the teams’ first meeting on April 14, was also prepared. No. 2 singles player Taylor Coffee won two of three sets, as did No. 3 Brandon Schlack. In the first matchup, they had combined for just one victory.

In doubles, the Sailors’ senior tandem of McKenna Duley and Taylor Friend won two sets, although they had swept in the previous meeting.

“Los Al, their doubles today really played well,” Case said. “We had a much easier time against their doubles in the first meeting.”

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