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Sea Kings stave off Uni

Matsuoka rallies to win final set, capping singles sweep and leading CdM to crucial Pacific Coast League victory.

October 08, 2009|By Barry Faulkner

CORONA DEL MAR — Not long into the final and deciding set in the Pacific Coast League girls’ tennis showdown between University and Corona del Mar high schools, players and coaches from both teams sat in formation on the center line of the adjoining court Thursday.

The regimented assembly of supporters was a fitting metaphor for the marathon singles duel between Sea Kings senior Melissa Matsuoka and Uni sophomore Kyra Scott, since everything was, in fact, on the line.

The match, a string of 10 straight league titles for CdM, and, conceivably, one of the top four seeds in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs were some of the stakes.

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Matsuoka rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead and eventually won the set, 7-6, with a 7-5 verdict in the tiebreaker. Her victory, which closed out a three-set sweep in the No. 1 spot, knotted the score at 9-9. CdM was victorious, however, thanks to an 82-75 advantage in games.

The two teams will collide again Oct. 27 at University. And the winner of that match figures to be crowned PCL champion.

Matsuoka, who was defeated in a similarly dramatic scenario in the Sea Kings’ lone loss this season against Campbell Hall, was immediately mobbed by teammates, making her the centerpiece of a group hug that appeared to go about three layers deep.

“It’s a memorable match, because I had to come back and figure out a way to play her,” said Matsuoka, who helped the host Sea Kings (9-1, 3-0 in league), ranked No. 4, in Division I, earn their narrowest victory over the No. 5-ranked Trojans (8-2, 2-1) in Brian Ricker’s 10 seasons as coach.

“I’ve never lost a match to Uni and, I hate to say it, but we’ve never really had a close match,” said Ricker, whose team split Thursday’s first-round, 3-3, and entered the third round trailing, 7-5.

Seniors Kelli Feeley and Azadeh Nazemi swept, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 1 doubles, to help CdM produce just enough. The Sea Kings’ No. 2 doubles team of junior Kalika Slevcove and sophomore Katelyn Nguyen won two of three sets, claiming 16 of 25 games.

Senior Hailey Hogan, playing at No. 2 singles, earned the other set victory for the hosts, a 6-0 triumph that helped them build the necessary advantage on games.

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