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MATT MASIN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Corona del Mar's Danielle Willson was the Pacific Coast League singles runner-up last season. She is part of a strong singles lineup that could help the Sea Kings capture the CIF-SS Division 1 title this season.

CdM plans to come on strong this season

STAFF WRITER

Call it coincidence, but Corona del Mar’s girls tennis team is built much like its male counterparts – the 2016 Southern California Regional championship-winning boys team.

There is star potential at the top of the singles lineup, depth and reliability throughout the doubles rotation, and the drive and hunger to compete seems to be more evident this season.

There’s never a shortage of skill at CdM, and expectations remain sky high for one of the most successful programs in the Southern Section. But now in his second year at the helm of the girls program, Coach Jamie Gresh hopes his latest batch of talent can enjoy a similar type of success he experienced three months ago with the boys.

“There’s definitely a comfort factor now,” Gresh said, referring to the familiarity he has with the team. “The girls know what my expectations are and what I’m looking for. I definitely think this team will be just as good as last year’s and has the potential of getting a round farther.”

The Sea Kings ended last fall with an overall record of 22-3 and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals, where it was upended by eventual division runner-up Harvard-Westlake of Studio City.

Junior Danielle Willson and senior Jasie Dunk held down the top two single spots a year ago, and the duo returns as arguably the best one-two combo the county has to offer. Willson racked up 45 wins last fall, was the Pacific Coast League singles runner-up and played her way to the final 16 at CIF Individuals.

Dunk earned 41 win of her own in 2015, and earned constant praise as one of the area’s most improved players.

“They’re both one year better, and you expect them to win when they step on the court,” Gresh added. “It’s one of those things if you know you need six (points), they can get you six.”

As nice as it is to potentially fall back on six points every outing, it’s the depth of the doubles side that has the Sea Kings coming in at No. 1 in the preseason county poll. Senior Camellia Edalat was an All-County second team doubles performer last year. Shaya Northrup impressed as a freshman. Brooke Kenerson made waves too.

Throw a healthy Kylie Tasu into the mix at doubles or potentially No 3 singles, and there’s reason for such optimism at CdM.

“Winning the PCL is one of our goals again this season,” Gresh said. “We do want to get a round further than we did last year, though. And I think we’re more than capable of doing that. There’s another level of competitiveness to this team.”

NEW PLAYOFF GROUPINGS

Just as every other fall sport has changed, the girls tennis playoff groupings also adopted the competitive equity model for this season to balance the power structure.

After winning the CIF-SS Division 3 title last fall, Valencia makes the most significant leap of any county team, jumping all the way up to Division 1.

There are 39 teams in the newly constructed Division 1. Valencia is one of 18 county teams that make up that number. Based on their power-point profiles, the other local schools competing in the top division will be: Corona del Mar, University, Santa Margarita, Dana Hills, San Clemente, Newport Harbor, Villa Park, JSerra, Troy, Los Alamitos, Sage Hill, Northwood, Mater Dei, Laguna Beach, Tesoro, El Dorado and Fountain Valley.

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Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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