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Sailors start strong

Girls' Tennis

Newport Harbor, sporting mostly new team, easily tops Lightning. Battle of the Bay is next.

August 28, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Megan Bathen, left, and partner Kaitlyn Cosenza celebrate a point during a doubles match against Sage Hill on Tuesday.
Newport Harbor High's Megan Bathen, left, and partner… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Good programs don't rebuild, they reload.

"Rebuild" certainly has not been a word that Coach Kristen Case has had to use in her first five years coaching at her alma mater. The Newport Harbor High girls' tennis team has won the last four Sunset League titles. The Sailors have made CIF Southern Section Division 2 finals appearances each of the last two years.

And, though the Sailors did lose plenty of players from last year, they showed Tuesday afternoon that they still have plenty of talent in place.

Newport Harbor overwhelmed a short-handed Sage Hill squad, 16-2, at home in the first dual match of the season for both schools.

The Sailors' five seniors were perfect. Senior McKenna Johnson swept at No. 2 singles in her first varsity match, including an impressive 6-4 victory over Lightning No. 1 Liana Korber.

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The doubles teams of seniors Megan Bathen and Kaitlyn Cosenza, as well as Kelsey Christiansen and Lexi DeSantis, also won five sets for Newport Harbor.

"It's looking good so far," Case said. "It's come together great. I have a really good core group of seniors, and all of them demonstrate great leadership, which is really crucial to our success. There's also a lot of young girls. With their enthusiasm and dedication, they've jumped right in and jumped on-board and really become a solid unit really quick. This is the first year it's probably been such a new team, and for them to be this unified this quick is an amazing thing to watch. We're definitely focused on match-by-match. It's more so for us about the journey, and not the end result."

Some of that youth also shined. Freshman Baylee Bakkila won twice before she was subbed out, and the freshman doubles team of Kendall Cosenza and Peyton Espley-Jones were subbed in to win a tiebreaker set in the final round.

Kaitlyn Cosenza, one of just three returning starters, said the team has meshed well.

"It's good this year just to see a bunch of faces on the team," Kaitlyn Cosenza said. "It's refreshing, just to be able to work with a new group of girls and start over, I guess. We've been working really hard this summer, so everything is the same in that aspect. There's just some new faces on the court, which is really nice."

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