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Sea Kings fight back

Corona del Mar, unfazed by earlier losses, respond by beating Peninsula to clinch 12th straight CIF semifinal berth Tuesday.

November 16, 2010|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

CORONA DEL MAR — Kalika Slevcove tore ligaments in her left wrist playing tennis Nov. 7.

It's still pretty wrapped up. The Corona del Mar High senior has adapted, switching from a two-handed backhand to a one-handed slice backhand.

Some might say it's been a down year for the Sea Kings girls' tennis team, which failed to win the Pacific Coast League title for the first time in 12 years.

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When it counted on Tuesday, though, CdM showed just how brilliantly it could adapt as well.

The Sea Kings shook off a brutal nonleague loss to Palos Verdes Peninsula nearly two months ago, coming together for a big 12-6 upset win over the No. 4-seeded Panthers in a CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal match at CdM.

"Before we hadn't really gotten our stride," said freshman Lauren Thaxter, who won three times as CdM swept in singles. "Now, we kind of do. Today we knew what we were up against, so we weren't surprised by anything."

Peninsula had topped CdM, 13-5, in a nonleague match Sept. 28. Peninsula swept in doubles that day, a bit embarrassing for a team known for its doubles strength and the first time in Coach Brian Ricker's seven-year tenure that had happened.

On Tuesday, though, it was clear that the Sea Kings (18-5) had come together at the right time. They kept another long streak going — it's the 12th straight year the CdM girls have made at least the CIF semifinals. CdM will play top-seeded Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, the defending Division I champion, on Thursday at Los Angeles Valley College.

"Being the underdog, the pressure wasn't on us," said Slevcove after winning twice at No. 1 doubles with fellow senior Morgan McVey. "It's kind of nice to be the underdog, and then when you come back and win, it's just so much more satisfying. We fought great out there today."

Slevcove and McVey weren't playing together that day in September; Slevcove was playing singles at that time and got swept. But Ricker knew the Sea Kings weren't likely to get swept in doubles again Tuesday with the two seniors at the top of the lineup.

Another change was that Thaxter had been out sick that day.

Peninsula also changed its lineup around by putting usual singles standout Anna Tatsuno, a senior, in doubles. But the Sea Kings were up 4-2 after the first round, 8-4 after the second round and clinched the match soon after.

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