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Cerritos sees double vision against Redlands, wins second straight CIF championship


By Loren Kopff

CLAREMONT-The opponent was the same and most of the players were back but the Cerritos girls tennis team found a tougher time in defending its California I

English: State Seal of the California Intersch...

English: State Seal of the California Interscholastic Federation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nterscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV championship. The Lady Dons won four of the final six sets to pull out a hard fought 10-8 win over Redlands last Friday afternoon at The Claremont Club.

Cerritos, the top ranked team in the division, blew out Redlands 14-4 in last year’s finals, including winning all nine doubles’ sets. This time around, the doubles still dominated, taking seven sets including the No. 3 team of seniors Colleen Phong and Toby Tsai winning all three of their sets.

“We knew that [Redlands] would be different because last year was their first finals and they were scared,” said Cerritos head coach Alvin Kim. “We warned the girls about this and they came out with a mission. They came with the tenacity and we couldn’t match their energy in the first round. We were lucky to get three [wins], I felt. We just ramped it up in the second [round].”

Cerritos (22-3) got out to a 3-0 lead before the second ranked Terriers tied it up when Kathryn Ryan defeated No. 3 junior singles player Katherine Wee 6-2. But Wee’s younger sister and No. 1 singles player, sophomore Shirline Wee, put the Lady Dons up 4-3 with a 6-0 win over Ryan. Cerritos then went up 5-3 following a 6-3 triumph by the No. 1 doubles team of seniors Rachel Guaderrama and Michelle Yang over Cloie Chiong and Myriam Larif. Eventually, Guaderrama, the team captain, and Yang would clinch the championship when they defeated Lisa Aubry and Hollyn Bakland 6-0. That made the score 9-7 but the Lady Dons were comfortably ahead in games won (69-51).

To make sure there wouldn’t be Division IV’s second ever 9-9 draw since the current divisional format began in 1992, Phong and Tsai rallied from a 5-4 deficit to defeat Heidi Lai and Anushka Paladugu 7-5 to end the match.

“How about that,” Kim pondered about his No. 3 doubles team. “Even as a coach, you end up scratching your head. What a great day for them and to graduate in this way. I’ve been complaining about our doubles the entire season and they really showed up today.”

No. 2 seniors Sivathmika Chevvuri and Justine Wu knocked off Aubry/Bakland 6-2 and blanked Chiong/Larif 6-0, which put Cerritos in front for good at 7-6.

Kim slightly altered his lineup this season from that of 2012, putting Shirline Wee at the No. 1 spot, followed by senior Taylor Heath at No. 2 and Katherine Wee at No. 3. Last season, Heath was the No. 1 singles player followed by Katie and Shirline Wee respectively. In the finals last season, Shirline Wee won her only two sets played before being subbed out. But she got off to a slow start last Friday, falling to Hermehr Kaur 6-0 before posting 6-0 wins over Ryan and Shyamlee Nanda.

“Shirline was a really good player last year,” Kim said. “She’s much better this year. I just didn’t want to start a freshman at number one with all of the mental issues going with being a number one. Taylor has always been the face of our franchise here, so we wanted her to be our number one last year.”

“I knew I couldn’t let my emotions get the best of me because last time that didn’t turn out very well,” Shirline Wee said. “Even though I lost my first match, I told myself to concentrate and I got myself back into the way I normally play and I pulled off the two wins.”

Probably the set of the match came with Cerritos leading 9-7 and Katherine Wee facing Kaur. Even though the Lady Dons were leading by 18 games, thus putting Redlands out of reach since the most they could get to even tie is 12 points, Wee rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 5-4 to force a tiebreaker. Eventually, she would fall 7-6 (7-4) and ended up losing all three of her sets.

“She really secured us in games,” Kim said. “I felt that as soon as we knew that we had the games, because Taylor’s loss (2-6 to Ryan) was kind of unexpected and Katie had a played a couple of bad sets before, she really came through for us with those games.”

Last season, Cerritos went 25-0 and began this season as the division’s top ranked team and never left that perch. The Lady Dons also became the division’s sixth team under the current format to win back to back titles. Only Pasadena Poly (1992-1993) won a third straight, but at Division III in 1994.

“It’s a big thing for us because it’s our second one but we managed to do it back to back,” Shirline Wee said. “I’m really happy. The people who were here when I wasn’t here are probably really proud of us, too.”

If Cerritos moves up to Division III and wins another championship, it will definitely be a hard-earned one as only the Wee sisters return as the only starters. But there were eight juniors on this season’s team.


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