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Radeva, Cernius moving on from Newport Harbor girls' tennis team

Newport Harbor singles players don't plan to be back next year for Sailors as they focus on other opportunities.

June 16, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Annie Radeva has decided to leave the Newport Harbor High girls' tennis program to focus more on tournaments.
Annie Radeva has decided to leave the Newport Harbor High… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Annie Radeva and Natalie Cernius, two singles starters on the Newport Harbor High girls' tennis team last season, are not planning to return in the fall for the Sailors.

Radeva is an incoming sophomore and Cernius is an incoming junior. They were two of the three singles starters for last year's Sunset League champions and CIF Southern Section Division 2 finalists.

Radeva confirmed the news Saturday after her first match at the 110th annual Southern California Junior Sectionals, and Cernius' mother, Poita, said in an email that her daughter will not be playing for Newport Harbor this fall.

"They're both great girls, and they both have different opportunities that they need to seek out right now," Newport Harbor Coach Kristen Case said. "I 100% support them in that. And I'm excited for next year's team, to rebuild and grow and come together to have another great experience.

"I have nothing but the best of words to say about both Annie and Natalie. I think they're both incredible young women."

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Radeva said Saturday that she wants to focus on more individual tournaments, so she could no longer attend the Sailors' practices.

"I love the program," said Radeva, who did not rule out returning in future years. "At the end of the day, I just need to compete individually in these bigger tournaments ... I don't think [just showing up to matches] is fair to the girls. I wouldn't be that good of a teammate if I just showed up. We do a lot of team bonding, and I'd be missing all that, so I don't think that's fair to the girls."

Poita Cernius wrote in an email that her daughter has been offered an opportunity to take the Friday Night Club for Special Needs Teens, an Orange County group she founded, to a national level. Natalie, a pianist, also will be able to devote more time to her music.

"I'm not upset, mostly just sad," Poita Cernius wrote in the email. "Natalie had two idyllic years as a freshman and sophomore — the team went to the CIF championship both years, and she was the Sunset League singles finalist both years. With only two years left in high school, she felt she needed to turn her focus to the other things she loves besides tennis."

Seven starters have left the varsity team since Case became the coach in 2007, albeit for several different reasons. It began with Natalie Cernius' older sister, Ariana, as well as Cynthia Waterman.

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