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Girls' Tennis: Bright future for Burke, Cosenza

Newport doubles players finish third at Sunset League finals, look forward to two more years.

October 31, 2013|By Matt Szabo

HUNTINGTON BEACH — A popular term on the Newport Harbor High girls' tennis team is "right back." Players often yell it to their teammates for support, indicating that they should come right back after a missed shot, refocus and get the next point.

In their first time on the big stage at the Sunset League finals, Sailors sophomores Anna Burke and Kendall Cosenza did not win the tournament in doubles. But they left the courts with third-place medals, and their heads held high.

Burke and Cosenza plan to be "right back" at this stage the next two years as well.

"We're only sophomores," Burke said after she and Cosenza outlasted Los Alamitos seniors Mary Bunting and Stephanie Kim, 6-4, 6-4, in the third-place match Thursday at Marina High. " We have so much ahead of us. We're coming in here stronger next year. We've got two more years to improve and get better."

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It is that kind of mindset that will help Burke and Cosenza in the future. They did come close to pulling off a big upset Thursday, in front of all their teammates who came to support them.

No. 4-seeded Burke and Cosenza took the first set off top-seeded Sydney Bott and Erika Cheng of Los Alamitos. It was the first set Bott and Cheng had lost in league all season.

Bott and Cheng rallied for a 3-6, 6-1, 10-2 victory in a super-tiebreaker, denying Burke and Cosenza their first appearance in CIF Individuals. But the experience itself also was valuable for Newport Harbor's duo.

"They played great," Newport Harbor Coach Kristen Case said. "That's a tough semifinal that they had, to have to play the No. 1 seed. We just came out confident and ready to play, and played some incredible doubles. Obviously, Bott and Cheng are a great team. They stepped up their game a lot in that second set. They really started being way more aggressive, poaching a lot more and hitting bigger balls. We did our best trying to adjust.

"I was just very happy with how they played that first set of that match. That showed huge improvement. This is the best doubles that Anna and Kendall have played in their career."

Bott said Los Alamitos had a pep assembly Thursday, so she and Cheng got to the match just before it began. She attributed that to the Griffins duo's slow start.

"After we got warmed up first set, we knew how to play them," Bott said. "That's when we caught our lead, and we just rolled with it … We just had to hit out on the ball and be more aggressive at the net."

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