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Uni looking to finally reach top of the mountain

Girls’ Tennis

University High has been trending upward for the past half dozen years, but a CIF championship has been just out of its reach. The Trojans — one of the county's top teams — are looking to change that this year.

September 08, 2012|By Joe Haakenson | By Joe Haakenson
  • Kyla Scott and Krystal Lai celebrate a point during a doubles match last season. Both are back with the team this season.
Kyla Scott and Krystal Lai celebrate a point during a doubles… (Daily Pilot )

It started with the 2006 season, when the University High School girls' tennis team reached the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Since then, Uni Coach John Kessler's girls have climbed the proverbial ladder — rung by rung — to a potential CIF championship.

In 2007, the Trojans reached the second round; in 2008 and 2009 they reached the quarterfinals; in 2010 they reached the semifinals and last year they reached the CIF Division I championship match.

They lost a close one, 10-8, to Dana Hills in the title match, but at least they got there.

Now, the bar has been raised. If the trend continues, Uni should at least reach the CIF final and maybe even win it. Kessler, though, warns that it won't be easy.

"That's the goal every year," said Kessler, who also coaches the boys' team at Uni. "The only problem with that is we've lost a couple key people and our main competition — Dana Hills and Campbell Hall — I think both got better. Both added key girls."

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Uni lost Kyra Scott, the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player last year, as well as Caroline Kolln and Nassim Radmehr, who were both first-team PCL selections.

"Kyra was consistent over the four years," Kessler said. "She was the one everybody looked to, so yes, losing her was definitely a big blow. She was singles, she was doubles and she stepped up in big matches for us."

Don't feel sorry for Kessler, though.

Uni has a new No. 1 in Kaiulani Boyer, a senior transfer from Palm Desert.  Other newcomers are sophomore Celine Gruaz and freshman Alyssa Rudin.

"I think (Boyer) is actually a better player than (Scott); she's higher ranked, she's a top player and she will help us a lot," Kessler said. "She's fighting some injuries but she's a top player, a nationally ranked player."

Kessler also said that Gruaz has a lot of potential if she can be consistent, and Rudin will be able to make an impact immediately despite her young age.

"That's three girls who can step right into the starting lineup and help us," Kessler said.

Uni has quality players returning from last year's team, including Yuki Asami, who is the No. 2 singles player, and Danielle Pham and Shannon Theisen, who make up a formidable doubles team. Kyla Scott, Kyra's younger sister, and Shayna Becker also will contribute and get turns as the No. 3 singles player.

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