PREP TENNIS ROUNDUP: Plan backfires in West Ranch's semifinal loss Nov. 17, 2011

from LA Daily News - All Sports News· ·

Revenge is sweet, as the old adage clearly states, and it was seemingly all the incentive that the West Ranch girls' tennis team needed Thursday. But things didn't go according to plan for the top-seeded Wildcats. Sage Hill, the No.

Revenge is sweet, as the old adage clearly states, and it was seemingly all the incentive that the West Ranch girls' tennis team needed Thursday. But things didn't go according to plan for the top-seeded Wildcats. Sage Hill, the No. 4 seed, defeated the host Wildcats 10-6 in a Southern Section Div.III semifinal match that had to be halted due to darkness. West Ranch was looking to avenge last season's 10-8 loss to the Lightning in the semifinals. "We were nervous," West Ranch's Ana Cecilia Fuentes said. "We wanted to turn things around. We did our best to stay focused, but it didn't work out for us." West Ranch (18-1) entered the match with plenty of momentum. But none of that mattered to the Lightning (17-4), who returned to the division final Monday to battle Academy League rival St. Margaret's (20-0) for the third time this season. The Wildcats built a 5-4 lead, due in part to Fuentes, who won 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. But victories were hard to come by thereafter for West Ranch. "We put ourselves in a position to pull out a victory, we were in the driver's seat," Wildcats coach Eric Spiecker said. "Sage Hill clawed back in the match. Once they started rolling, it was tough. We would have liked to finish things, but it wasn't necessary. "Give Sage Hill credit, that team was prepared. We we're prepared also. It just wasn't our time. Overall, we had a great season. This group played together from start to finish. I'm very proud of the girls. We are not going to hang our heads in disappointment." Sage Hill had to feel good about its chances after traveling Sept. 19 to the Santa Clarita Valley and losing 78-69 on games after the teams played to a 9-9 result. It appeared as if Sage Hill learned something in that match. "We know them well and they know us," Fuentes said. "We felt like if we played up to our potential, we could win this thing. We had a lot of support today and that kept out spirits up. No one likes to lose. That's not what we wanted to accomplish in these semifinals." West Ranch was hoping to gain an edge in singles play with freshman Julia Lynch, but she struggled and ended up losing 6-4, 6-1, before her last set was suspended. The Lightning reached the final for the fifth time, having won the Div. IV title in 2005. A loss to St. Margaret's in last year's Div. III final fueled the fire this time around. "There was never a shred of doubt, we knew we could come in here and play," Sage Hill coach A.G. Longoria said. "We were not overconfident though. We knew West Ranch was a good team. I think we were just a little better today. That was the difference in the end." - Sean Ceglinsky In the other Div. III semifinal: St. Margaret's 13, Malibu 5: For St. Margaret's, it was an example of been there, done that. Unfortunately for visiting Malibu, it quickly became a case Thursday of got there, try to get back next season. The No. 3 Sharks (18-2) fell behind 5-1 after the first round and second-seeded St. Margaret's (20-0) relied on its significant postseason experience to advance to its fourth consecutive final, including its second in a row in Div. III, Monday at the Claremont Club against Academy League rival Sage Hill (17-4). The Tartans captured eight doubles sets and received a singles sweep from senior Tiffany Cheng at Rancho San Clemente Tennis Club to extend its winning streak to 95 in a row since a loss to Valencia of Placentia in the Div. IV semifinals in 2007. "There's certainly pressure, but it's a good pressure because we're not just playing for ourselves and our teammates, we're also playing for the girls who graduated and we don't want to let them down," said Cheng, one of seven seniors on the Tartans' roster. "There's no other way it could end for us seniors other than playing (Sage Hill)." Cheng's 6-4 victory over Malibu freshman Ilana Oleynik and Zoe Oedekerk's 6-4 triumph over Britta Mosser in a battle of two of the division's most talented juniors complemented a doubles sweep in the first round for St. Margaret's. "We were all a little nervous in the beginning, but once we got off to a good start, I think we all loosened up a bit," Cheng said. "We knew they were strong in singles, but we felt like from looking at their results that we could do well in doubles. Zoe and I put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do well, but everybody stepped up." Lauren Louks won twice for Malibu, which was making its first semifinal appearance since 2004. Mosser and Oleynik each won a set, with Raven Odian and Rachel Purewal securing the lone doubles set for the Sharks, who had Maddie Clarfield as the lone senior in their lineup. "I think we underestimated how good they really are," Louks said. "Basically everyone on their team is a senior, so there's always next year. Hopefully everyone on the team will be working harder in the offseason, so I hope we're going to improve a lot. But this was a good experience." - Erik Boal