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Sage comes up short

TENNIS: Rival St. Margaret’s remains undefeated, takes control of Academy League title race.

October 18, 2008|By Mark Ratto

NEWPORT BEACH — With a fist pump and a muffled, “Let’s go,” junior Julia Blakeley was focused and hungry from the first point. She won all three of her sets without losing one game.

The only problem was, her team could not follow suit.

Blakeley and her Sage Hill School girls’ tennis team lost, 10-8, to rival St. Margaret’s High, in a matchup of the top two ranked teams in CIF Southern Section Division IV Thursday.

The Lightning (12-3, 4-1 in league) entered ranked No. 2, while the Tartans (13-0, 4-0) will hold on to their top spot after the win at the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club.

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Blakeley was the points leader for Sage Hill tallying up three of her team’s eight points. In her three sets, she never lost a game, beating her St. Margaret opponents, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.

The junior faced a tough match early, but was unscathed by a defensively savvy Melanie Hess. Hess tested Blakeley’s patience early with a steady stream of returns to answer Blakeley’s strong forehand. But Blakeley never varied from her aggressive style.

In the sixth and final game, a backhand winner down the line finished off her opponent. She won her next two matches in similar fashion by simply overpowering her opponents.

“I think I played pretty well today,” Blakeley said after the match. “I am happy with what I did today but I am still learning more and more after each match.”

Blakeley’s learning curve has recently included how to play injured. Prior the start of the season, Blakeley strained her calf at a tournament and has yet to fully recover.

It doesn’t seem to have slowed her down.

Blakeley has totaled 15 wins this season without losing any of her singles matches. She has been a huge contributor to the team’s season thus far.

“We had nothing to lose and we played well,” Blakeley said. "We are ranked second in our division and we had a good shot. We only lost, 10-8, and we have a good shot [in the rematch] Thursday.”

Blakeley and Sage Hill will play St. Margaret’s on Thursday at San Clemente Tennis Center and will try to put a dent in the Tartans’ undefeated record.

The singles for the Lightning were solid, tallying up six of the team’s eight points against St. Margaret’s, but the doubles teams are slightly a step behind. St. Margaret’s only lost two matches in doubles and never allowed any of the Sage Hill doubles teams to get any momentum.

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