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Girls' Tennis: Sage Hill ends streak

Lightning take over sole possession of first place, hand rival St. Margaret's first league loss since 2007.

October 09, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Sage Hill's Celine Wang returns a backhand against St. Margaret's during an Academy League match at The Tennis Club Newport Beach on Tuesday.
Sage Hill's Celine Wang returns a backhand against… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

NEWPORT BEACH — The biggest rival for any Sage Hill School team is always St.. Margaret's.

It's hard to have a rivalry when one team always wins.

But the Sage Hill girls' tennis team ended five years of frustration Tuesday afternoon with its 10-8 victory at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. The Lightning did what no team had done in the Academy League since 2007 — defeat the Tartans.

The league title streak is in jeopardy for St. Margaret's, the four-time defending league and CIF champions. The Lightning were glad to be the ones to do the honors.

"The Sage-St. Margaret's rivalry is always the biggest match of the season, every time we play," said Sage Hill senior Liana Korber, who won two sets at No. 1 singles. "It feels really good to finally get the win in there, somewhere in those four years. I mean, I'm so proud of all of us. I feel like my teammates that graduated, I did them well. We all did. I couldn't be happier with how we played."

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The rivalry runs deeper than league. Three times in the last four years, the Tartans defeated Sage in a tight CIF championship match at The Claremont Club. St. Margaret's saved at least two match points each time.

The CIF title wins for St. Margaret's — the last two coming via winning on games in Division 3 — were part of an impressive 100-match winning streak which was snapped earlier this year.

"It feels good to have gone through those two CIF finals, where we lost to St. Margaret's on games, and to finally come out with a really tight win," Korber said. "It feels really nice to be on the other side of that. And we've earned it. We've worked so hard."

Now Sage (4-6, 4-0 in league) is in a position to win its first league title in five years. The Lightning rematch with St. Margaret's (7-4, 3-1) in the league finale, Oct. 17 at Rancho San Clemente Tennis and Fitness Club.

Tuesday's match was a team victory for Sage Hill, ranked No. 9 in CIF Southern Section Division 2. Nobody swept, yet everybody got at least one set win.

Freshman Celine Wang won twice at No. 2 singles, and senior Kimia Vakili won a set at No. 3 singles.

Senior Lauren Hsu and freshman Jaclyn Gerschultz won twice at No. 1 doubles by 6-0 scores. Gerschultz said she is a standout softball pitcher and shortstop, but Sage Hill does not have a softball program so she started playing more tennis recently.

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