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Girls' Tennis: Sailors start strong

Team is young, but shows potential in blanking Costa Mesa in season opener.

September 03, 2013|By Matt Szabo

NEWPORT BEACH — The first day of high school brings new classes, new friends and a new designation as a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.

For the Newport Harbor High and Costa Mesa girls' tennis teams, it also brought a season-opening match on Tuesday.

"Everything's coming at you at once," Newport Harbor senior co-captain Kate Knight said. "I mean, we've known the entire summer that there was going to be a match on the first day of school. It's an exciting day."

Both teams were indeed excited to get the season underway. The Sailors were probably a little bit more excited with the result.

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They blanked the Mustangs, 18-0, at Newport Harbor High.

Showcasing a very young lineup that includes six sophomore starters, the Sailors were impressive. Knight, a four-year varsity player, won just once at No. 1 singles before she was subbed out. Sophomore Kylie McCullough came in and picked up two more wins. Sophomores Peyton Espley-Jones and Jen Kingsley swept at No. 2 and 3 singles, respectively.

Newport sophomores Kendall Cosenza and Anna Burke swept at No. 1 doubles, as did senior co-captain Reagan Rutter and junior Annie LaGrandeur at No. 2 doubles. Sophomores Livy Zehnder and Elle Zielinski won twice at No. 3 doubles, before junior subs Claudia Davis and Courtney Howarth won as subs in the last round.

"Everyone came out with really good energy and kept it throughout the entire match," Rutter said. "That definitely helped us stay confident and not get too overzealous with anything. It kept us composed, and we were able to keep it together and come out strong. Everyone played really well, so it's really good for our first match."

Every doubles set was 6-0, 6-1 or 6-2. The Sailors did not seem to appear nervous, which could have been expected with four starters — Kingsley, LaGrandeur, Zehnder and Zielinski — making their varsity debuts.

"I've been really impressed with the sophomores on the team," Knight said. "Personally, in my past three years I've been on pretty much senior-dominated teams. There's been lots of upperclassmen every year, and it's always been looking up to the upperclassmen. Now we're the two captains, and we're the smallest [grade], the seniors. I think it's really impressive, their maturity and their ability to step up, when they're the one who are pretty much dominating the population of our team."

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