"Is it ever?" CdM Coach Brian Ricker said, unsure of the last time CdM failed to make the playoffs.
Corona del Mar (5-8, 4-4 in league) takes pride in its success; the program has advanced to at least the CIF semifinals for 12 straight years. But the Sea Kings likely won't get a chance to extend the streak after falling behind second-place Northwood (6-2 in league) and third-place Woodbridge (5-3) with two matches left.
The top three teams in the six-team league are guaranteed berths. CdM, which owns the tiebreaker over Northwood but not over Woodbridge, would be eliminated with a loss to defending champion University on Thursday. The Sea Kings also are ineligible for an at-large berth because they'll finish with a sub-.500 overall record.
"There's no question we've gotten better," Ricker said. "As a coach, even if we don't make the playoffs, at least we have a team that has improved throughout the season. We had such a hard early nonleague season. We were 2-7 at one point, and that's hard on a CdM tennis team mentally. But they didn't get down. Ever since then, we've gotten better. All the girls have improved."
They showed it in Tuesday's match, bettering their result from their 11-7 loss to Woodbridge on Oct. 6. The No. 1 doubles team of senior Ariana Naaseh and sophomore Kenzie Purcifull continued its recent strong play, sweeping, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.
Naaseh and Purcifull are 11-0 in CdM's last four matches, and 24-5 on the season.
How close was Tuesday's match? The Sea Kings were tied, 3-3, after a round and 6-6 after two rounds. The games count at that point was 50-49, Woodbridge.
With two doubles sets still on, the sets (8-8) and games (64-64) were both tied. But Woodbridge's No. 1 doubles team of Danielle Caro and Jenny Leong provided some separation. They defeated CdM's No. 3 team of Megan Hawkins and Kimmia Naaseh, 6-1.