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Sailors adapt, advance

Girls' Tennis

Newport Harbor, playing without No. 1 singles player Bakkila, remains focused, advances to CIF Division II semifinals.

November 16, 2011|By Matt Szabo

ARCADIA — The Newport Harbor High girls' tennis team has always relied on teamwork to get the job done.

In the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, the Sailors have had to display that teamwork in a very tangible way.

Senior team captain Blake Bakkila is currently unable to play at No. 1 singles due to a sprained right ankle suffered at Sunset League finals. Newport Harbor brought in sophomore Kate Knight off the bench to play singles.

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Bakkila has virtually become an extra coach for the Sailors, encouraging the team more than ever. Knight has been playing some of her best tennis of the season.

The Sailors just keep on rolling.

They swept in doubles Tuesday to beat Arcadia, 14-4, in a Division II quarterfinal match at Arcadia High. No. 3-seeded Newport Harbor (19-1) will play at No. 2 San Marino in Thursday's semifinals. San Marino beat Santa Monica, 11-5.

Thursday's semifinal is a rematch of last year's Division II final, won by San Marino.

Coach Kristen Case said Bakkila, who is off crutches but whose ankle remains swollen, is day-to-day. But she said she's confident with whatever lineup she puts out there for the Sailors, who have won 17 straight matches.

"The team aspect is so big with this group, and everybody steps into the role they need to play," Case said. "Kate's doing a phenomenal job on the court, and 'Blakers' is taking her role as captain and leader by going out and playing the role of coach. She's using her eyes to help out her teammates. Right now she doesn't have the ability to use her racket, but what she does have is her eyes and her voice."

Case watched the Sailors win some momentum-changing sets Tuesday at Arcadia. It was the third straight year the Sailors had faced the Apaches in the playoffs. Arcadia (21-1) knocked off Newport in the second round in 2009, while the Sailors won last year in the semifinals.

The best place to watch the action at Arcadia is at the top of the bleachers on the south end of the football stadium. A large contingent watched Newport's No. 3 doubles team of Holly Hovnanian and Kaitlyn Cosenza overcome a 3-0 deficit in the first round to defeat Arcadia's Elizabeth Lieu and Shana Mofarrah, 6-3.

"Kristen always tells us, 'In any circumstance you have to adjust at some point,'" Cosenza said. "I think we just adjusted. We pulled two back, which really helped, because then we were able to be a wall and come in together. We just thought that it doesn't matter what the score is. We're just going to come back."

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