Sunday, March 25News That Matters

CdM girls’ tennis wins CIF USTA SoCal Regional title to end undefeated season

CdM girls’ tennis wins CIF USTA SoCal Regional title to end undefeated season

The depth of the Corona del Mar High girls’ tennis team was a strength all season, so perhaps it was fitting that the last match of the year came down to No. 3 doubles to decide it.

CdM senior Emily Freyman and junior Bella McKinney were going to a decisive third set against Arcadia’s Aubrie Weissbuch and Francesca Yao. In the balance hung the CIF USTA Southern California Regional title match.

Freyman and McKinney were down 3-2 in that decisive set, before they buckled down and capped CdM’s undefeated season in remarkable fashion. They won the final four games, McKinney serving out the match that clinched the Sea Kings’ first regional title in program history.

Corona del Mar (26-0) beat Arcadia 4-3, with McKinney and Freyman clinching the win with their 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win at that No. 3 doubles spot.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” McKinney said of having her teammates storm the court after the dramatic win. “I saw Emily crying, then I started crying. This was probably the last match of her tennis career.”

The Sea Kings were able to back up their first Southern Section Division 1 title since 2006 with another impressive tournament win, ending their perfect season on a high note.

“It feels really amazing,” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “This is a team that years from now, people will be like, ‘Oh, remember that team? They were undefeated, they won the Southern Section and the regional.’ For me as a coach, I’m super-proud of them for their play on the court, but also how they carry themselves as individuals. They’ve been very selfless, very committed to the team, almost like a family-oriented bond between these 14 girls.”

CdM handed Arcadia (25-2) its only two losses of the season, including the Sea Kings’ 10-8 win in the Division 1 semifinals. The Apaches threw the Sea Kings for a bit of a loop, putting their top singles player, Lauren Ko, at No. 1 doubles with Jolene Huey. Ko was battling a sore wrist.

“The lineup that Arcadia played was really smart,” CdM senior captain Danielle Willson said. “Even with them throwing obstacles at us, we were still able to get to four matches there. It just shows how strong we are and how much fight we have in us. It’s really special for me to finish my senior year off with a win like that.”

Arcadia essentially punted the Nos. 3 and 4 singles spots. CdM’s Annika Bassey beat Sydney Tran 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, and Roxy MacKenzie beat Michelle Dong 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles.

The other win for the Sea Kings came at No. 1 singles, where Willson beat Rachelle Yang, 6-2, 6-4.

Ko and Huey beat CdM’s Shaya Northrup and Paulina Loredo, 6-3, 6-3. And Arcadia’s No. 2 team of Angela Qiu and Sunny Ng topped CdM’s Lauren Friedman and Brooke Kenerson, 6-4, 6-2.

After McKinney and Freyman clinched the win, Arcadia’s Michelle Deng beat CdM’s Kristina Evloeva 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. But the win was in the bag.

“I really couldn’t be happier for Emily and Bella to get through that match,” Gresh said. “They knew how much pressure was on them, and what was on the line. They performed their best, and that’s what we needed out of them today at that spot.”

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