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Girls' Tennis: Peninsula too strong

CdM suffers first loss of the season, at the hands of top-ranked Panthers.

September 25, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

Corona del Mar High junior Riley Gerdau heard some last-minute advice Wednesday, as she stood on the tennis court waiting for her second set of the afternoon to begin.

The words came from her father, Ken.

"Take it easy on her," Ken said to Riley, and she couldn't help but smile.

Gerdau was playing Peninsula High sophomore Ena Shibahara, who is ranked No. 1 in the country in the girls' 16s.

The Panthers also are ranked No. 1, in CIF Southern Section Division 1. They showed the Sea Kings why.

Peninsula started strong and earned a 12-6 victory over No. 4 CdM, handing the hosts their first loss of the season.

Shibahara and senior Annika Ringblom each swept for Peninsula (7-0), winning 36 of 38 games. Last year, they teamed in doubles to advance to the CIF Individuals championship match.

But the real story against CdM also came in doubles. The Panthers also picked up six of nine sets against CdM, whose starting doubles teams had lost just two total sets prior to Wednesday.

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Peninsula's No. 2 team of senior Gala Strong and freshman Sarina Liu swept, and the No. 1 team of junior Risa Nakagawa and sophomore Sara Khattab won twice before being subbed out.

Nakagawa and Khattab had to work to earn their two victories against CdM (5-1), posting two come-from-behind wins. In the first round, they rallied to hand CdM seniors Kenzie Purcifull and Kimmia Naaseh their first loss of the year, 6-4. In the second round, they won the last five games to earn a 7-5 win over CdM sophomore Siena Sharf and freshman Jasie Dunk.

Sharf and Dunk also had lost to Strong and Liu, 7-5, in the first round. So although Peninsula had a 9-3 lead after two rounds, it easily could have been 6-6.

"I feel like we're off to a great start this season," CdM Coach Brian Ricker said. "In the beginning, I thought we were going to have strong doubles teams, and each match I become more and more of a true believer in how good they are. But [Peninsula], top to bottom, is the most talented team that I think we've seen in a couple of years. The No. 1 and 2 singles are highly ranked, and all six doubles players are ranked players who play very good doubles.

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