CdM streak threatened

University wins PCL match and is on verge of ending Sea Kings' 11-year string of league titles.

October 12, 2010|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

CORONA DEL MAR — The streak has been going since some of the members of the Corona del Mar High girls' tennis team were little more than toddlers.

The Sea Kings have 11 straight Pacific Coast League titles. But after more than a decade of dominance, No. 12 doesn't look like it's on the horizon.

Visiting University scored a big 12-6 win over the Sea Kings on Tuesday afternoon, taking a big step in denying the Sea Kings the league title for the first time since 1999.

The teams play again at University on Oct. 28.

The loss itself may not have been shocking to CdM (8-4, 2-1 in league). The Sea Kings, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll, knew that No. 3 University would be tough. CdM just edged the rival Trojans twice last year, winning in games the first meeting and 10-8 the second.


What may have been more surprising was the way Uni seized control of the match early Tuesday, opening up a 5-1 lead after the first round and having it all but clinched with a 9-3 advantage after the second.

"If you look at the personnel, they lost more than we did from last year," Uni Coach John Kessler said. "But then they get Lynda [Xepoleas] and [Lauren] Thaxter. To me, that put it a lot closer. I thought we would be 10-8 better … This is just a long-awaited win for us. It's a quality win against a quality program."

It's the first time in nine years of varsity girls coaching, including two at Laguna Beach and seven at CdM, that Coach Brian Ricker has lost to University. Woodbridge is also tough in league, but University (8-1, 3-0) now has the inside track to go undefeated and claim the outright league title.

"We'd have to beat them worse than they beat us," said Ricker, knowing that's unlikely. "I knew [the streak was] in great jeopardy this year. I like to set realistic goals for the team. Even last year, I started talking to the seniors, saying 'Girls, you don't want to be the ones who end the streak of league championships.' They don't want to be [that team] at all. We've worked as hard as we could, done everything we can … We're here, we're trying. Sometimes you run up against a team that's got more talent, and that was the case today.

"They just have a lot of good tournament players who are committed, and they have a good program, good coaching. Last year, they had seven freshmen in the top 100 [in Southern California girls' 14s]. This year, I think they have four more. We aren't getting those kinds of numbers."

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