Dana Hills finds way back to semifinals


Five games is all that separated the University and Dana Hills girls tennis teams when the two county powers battled to a 9-9 result in September.

After the opening round of Monday’s playoff match, it looked as though the teams were headed for the same result.

By winning four sets in each of the final two rounds, the visiting Dolphins topped the Trojans, 11-7, in a quarterfinal match at University High.

They will make their first semifinals appearance since 2012.

“It’s been a couple years, so we’re ready to get back there,” Dana Hills coach Justin Green said. “Everyone played a pivotal part in that win, which is cool. It’s fun to see a total team effort, and it definitely wasn’t just one person who won this match for us.”

The Dolphins (14-4) earned two points from each of its three doubles teams, and two points apiece from Tatum Phillips and Emilia Gorczyca, while Courtney Swift notched one win.

Perhaps the most important point was the one notched by April Schultz and Caroline Halloran from the No. 3 doubles slot in the first round.

Dana Hills’ duo trailed University’s Tiffany Markus and Sasha Iraniha, 5-2, but fought off five match points and wound up winning five straight games to steal the set, 7-5. The Trojans (14-6) had an opportunity to take a 4-2 team lead into the second round, but the Dolphins’ comeback tied the score at 3-3.

“That was big because (Schultz and Halloran) won their next set and it got the whole team pumped up,” Green added. “We were right back in the match with that point, so it was huge.”

The Dolphins won two singles sets and two doubles sets in the second and third rounds to punch their ticket to the semifinals, where they will host two-time defending CIF champion Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates on Wednesday afternoon.

“I thought this team overachieved all season,” University coach John Kessler said of his squad. “We had a great year, but the better team won today.”

Also in Division 1:

Corona del Mar 14, San Clemente 4: Sophomore Danielle Willson swept her singles sets and the Sea Kings dominated in doubles, winning eight of nine sets against the visiting Tritons. CdM will host Harvard-Westlake of Studio City in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Peninsula 13, Northwood 5: The Timberwolves ended their season with an 18-6 record.

In Division 2:

Sage Hill 11, Temecula Valley 7: Isabella Deckey and Michelle Hung went unbeaten in doubles, leading the Lightning to a semifinals appearance where they will face second-seeded Arcadia.

Valencia of Valencia 12, Troy 6: The Warriors weren’t able to upset the top-seeded Vikings and ended their season with a 15-4 record.

In Division 3:

Yorba Linda 11, Rio Mesa 7: Junior Emily Valenciano went unbeaten in singles and the Mustangs won five of six sets in third round, edging the third-seeded Spartans on the road.

Valencia 11, Chadwick 7: The top-seeded Tigers held off the visiting Dolphins to advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive season.

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