Sage edged by Tartans

Girls' Tennis

Oedekerk plays doubles not singles, but leads St. Margaret's to victory in Academy League opener.

September 27, 2011|By Matt Szabo
(Don Leach / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — The Sage Hill School girls' tennis team expected St. Margaret's standout Zoe Oedekerk to play in Tuesday's Academy League opener, but the junior has been battling a back injury.

Would Oedekerk play singles or doubles? Lightning Coach A.G. Longoria engineered a sly way to find out.

During the player introductions he started at the No. 3 players and worked up to No. 1. Longoria had two lineups prepared, one for if Oedekerk played singles and one for if she played doubles. When St. Margaret's announced Oedekerk at No. 3 doubles, on the fly Longoria went with his stronger singles lineup, announcing Kimberly Brown at No. 1 singles instead of in doubles.

"I was waiting for them to commit," said Longoria, a two-time California High School Tennis Coach of the Year. "As a young college Division I coach, I learned a lot of tricks."

The plan was solid, but Sage Hill still had to win the match. The Lightning couldn't do it, falling, 10-8, at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.


"We had the lineup the way we wanted it," Longoria said. "[The doubles teams] were to win three, two and one [sets], then get four in the singles."

The match was expected to be close, with St. Margaret's at No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division III coaches' poll and Sage at No. 3. It was a rematch of last year's Division III final, which St. Margaret's won on games to claim its third straight CIF title.

Things did not go as Sage Hill (4-3) expected. The Lightning fell behind after the opening round, 4-2. The key set was the last one to finish, when St. Margaret's senior Maddy Gottlieb and sophomore Tessa Hurr came from behind to outlast Sage Hill seniors Katie Bick and Rian Billingsley, 7-5.

To St. Margaret's Coach Rick Trager, it was the most important set as the Tartans (7-0) continued their winning streak. St. Margaret's now has won 79 straight matches over the last three-plus years; its last loss was in the 2007 CIF semifinals.

"If you had to pick one set that really changed the whole match, it was that one there," Trager said. "Having Maddy and Tessa win that set was really a biggie, because that just gave us so much confidence. That Sage doubles team is one of the premiere teams, I would say, around Orange County."

Sage Hill got its four sets in singles, two each from Brown and Liana Korber. In her last set of the day, Brown won the last five games to beat St. Margaret's freshman Deena Fatehi, 7-5. The quickly improving Korber won both her sets by 6-0 scores.

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