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Newport Harbor falls, still expects big things

Girls' Tennis

Sailors nearly swept in doubles in loss to D-I powerhouse Peninsula, but they remain optimistic about season.

September 15, 2011|By Matt Szabo

NEWPORT BEACH — As afternoon turned into evening and the lights came on at the Newport Harbor High tennis courts, a sister act broke out.

It was the last doubles round of Thursday's nonleague match against Palos Verdes Peninsula. Newport Harbor senior twins Christina and Robin Young were locked in a close set against Peninsula senior Brianna Kemp and her younger sister Cara.

The Young sisters pulled the set out, dominating in a tiebreaker as their teammates got fired up. Anyone who arrived at that moment wouldn't have known that it was the only doubles set the Sailors would win, as Peninsula posted a 13-5 victory.

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Peninsula co-coach Tom Cox said the programs probably hadn't played in eight to 10 years. Usually when his team comes to Newport Beach, it's to play Corona del Mar.

Sailors Coach Kristen Case said she definitely saw positives as her team fell to the Division I powerhouse.

"Peninsula is such a great team," Case said. "They're a top team in Division I. You only get better playing the best, and that was the goal of our [matches before league begins]. [We wanted] to put all of the best teams possible up against us, so we could just learn and get better every week. I think my girls did a phenomenal job today … we're definitely making the right progress."

Things seem to be looking up for the Sailors (2-1). They were already plenty good before, as Newport Harbor won its third straight Sunset League title in 2010 and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division II championship match for the first time in nine years.

Case said her team is still "much better" this year. When told of that prognosis, her players nodded in agreement.

"I definitely think we're better," said Christina Young, who now plays with her sister at No. 1 doubles after the departure of her partner from last year, Ricki Archie. "We worked and trained so much harder this summer than we ever have. We're very strong throughout. You can't tell the difference between our No. 1 and No. 3 in singles or doubles."

To tell the difference between the Young sisters while they're playing, know that Christina — team nickname "X" — wears a blue cap. Robin — or "Dogger" — wears a white visor.

"She saw an opportunity open up for herself, and she's worked extremely hard," Case said of Robin Young, a doubles substitute last year. "She got herself up in that top spot, and she's completely earned it by hard work and dedication. She's put a lot of hours in."

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