Sailors lose grasp on first place

Girls' Tennis

Los Alamitos dominates, handing Newport Harbor its first league loss in three years and putting league title hopes in jeopardy.

September 27, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Kate Knight stretches for a ball.
Newport Harbor High's Kate Knight stretches for… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

LONG BEACH — Los Alamitos High girls' tennis coach Kevin Garrett talked about wanting his team to play the best teams Southern California has to offer.

He said the Griffins have already played matches against Dana Hills and University, and have Peninsula coming up. Those are three of the top four teams in CIF Southern Section Division 1.

In the Sunset League, Los Alamitos might not be tested like in those matches. It sure looked that way Thursday.

The Griffins blitzed Newport Harbor, 15-3, at El Dorado Tennis Center, handing the Sailors their first league loss since 2009. Newport Harbor has won four straight Sunset League titles but that streak appears to be in jeopardy now, as Los Al is alone in first after the first round of league play.

The reason for the turnaround was simple enough to Garrett, whose team lost to Newport, 17-1 and 15-3, in two league meetings last year.


"I mean, they got a lot weaker and we got a lot stronger," Garrett said. "It was on both teams."

Garrett, who coached the Los Al boys to a CIF title in 2001, is in his second year back at Los Al as varsity girls coach. He said he lost just two senior starters from last year's team and added two newcomers, freshman Hope Hairrell and sophomore Jennifer Lu.

The additions were significant for Los Alamitos (5-3, 5-0 in league). Hairrell, Lu and sophomore Aliya Alenikov won eight of nine singles sets Thursday against the Sailors (9-4, 4-1). Only Newport Harbor junior Kate Knight was able to win a singles set, as she defeated Hairrell, 6-3, in her first set of the afternoon.

"We're still so young this year," said Garrett, who has just three senior starters and one junior. "I feel like sometimes we're a middle school team, with our ages. Our freshmen are 13-year-olds, and our sophomores are 14. It's nice, because it means we're going to be good for a long time, but I feel like when we go up against 17-year-olds we're at a distinct disadvantage. It works both ways."

But Los Alamitos was similarly dominant in doubles. The Griffins won seven of nine sets, the two losses being to Newport Harbor's No. 1 team of seniors Megan Bathen and Kaitlyn Cosenza.

Los Al's No. 1 team of Sarah Edwards and Sydney Bott, which swept, defeated Bathen and Cosenza, 6-3, in the first round, handing the Sailors seniors just their second league loss of the season. Edwards and Bott were Sunset League doubles finalists a year ago, falling in the championship match to Bathen and Mindy Wheeler.

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