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Sunny Hills' Wan battles, but falls in CIF-SS singles final
SEAL BEACH – Sunny Hills’ Christie Wan arrived at the CIF-SS Individual tennis championships as the Freeway League’s No. 1 seed.
After winning five matches without dropping a set to get to the championship round, Wan could not stop history from being made by Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates’ Ena Shibahara. Shibahara won the singles final, 6-3, 6-4, Thursday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
Shibahara became the second player to win three consecutive CIF-SS singles titles. The first to do it was Glendale’s Kelly Henry from 1977-1979.
“It was a little pressuring,” Shibahara said. “I was glad that I was able to do it. I was going for the three-peat.”
The day began with Wan facing Villa Park’s Constance Branstine in the semifinals. Branstine knocked Wan out of last year’s tournament with a 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2 result in the Round of 16.
The depth of Branstine’s groundstrokes allowed her to stay with Wan deep into the first set, but when it mattered most, the Lancers’ ace was the aggressor. She punished a mid-court forehand down the line to close out the first set, 6-4.
In the second set, Wan jumped out to a 3-0 edge. Audible expressions of confidence came from the junior as she secured the double-break lead.
Branstine, a Texas A&M commit, was able to get one break back, but she could not consolidate it when she dropped serve the next game. Wan went on to win, 6-4, 6-2.
“It was kind of surprising,” Wan said of being the last county player standing in the tournament. “Especially facing Constance. I’ve been working on my serve. I think that helped me a lot.”
Branstine lauded Wan’s performance in Thursday’s semifinal.
“We always have competitive matches against each other,” she said. “Today was more of her day, and I give her full credit. She played really good tennis today.”