Dana Hills leaves no doubt about its strength
DANA POINT - Dana Hills’ girls tennis team is a lot of things.
It is the reigning CIF-SS Division 1 champion, the defending league champion for the 19th consecutive year (dating back to the 1993 season), the consensus No. 1 team in the Southern Section and, by all accounts, the deepest collection of student-athletes around.
Most importantly, though, the top-ranked Dolphins are a team that won’t stop improving anytime soon.
In its first match of the regular season, Dana Hills showcased its familiar balance and overall strength in a decisive 14-4 nonleague victory over No. 7 Los Alamitos on Wednesday afternoon at Dana Hills High.
“There’s always room for improvement, but for our first match I think we competed well,” Dolphins coach Justin Green said. “I’m happy with how we played as a team today.”
Seniors Alyssa Smith and Jessica Perez - two of the 12 seniors on Dana Hills’ roster - combined to go 5-0 in singles sets with the former sweeping hers, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.
Perez, the Orange County girls tennis player of the year a season ago, took over No. 3 singles duties in the second round and claimed the final two sets, 6-1, 6-1.
“We have an experienced team,” Green said. “Our top players have been in the program for three or four years, so they’re used to having a target on their backs. It’s probably the biggest part of our success, playing with that feeling.”
The Dolphins’ top doubles team of Cassidy Spearman and Margo Pletcher took its two sets, 6-2, 6-1, as part of the hosts’ 7-2 edge over Los Alamitos (2-2).
In all, eight different participants - four singles players, four doubles teams - claimed sets for Dana Hills.
“After our top four (players), we have five, six girls who play real tough,” Green said. “Their play drives our whole team. We’re pretty deep so there’s a lot of competition ... everyone is pushing each other to get better.”
After dropping two sets in the first round, the Dolphins took five of six in the second to seize control of the match.
Los Alamitos, which is as young as Dana Hills is old, took two singles sets and two doubles sets in defeat.
“We’re a young team this year,” Griffins coach Kevin Garrett said of a starting lineup that featured only two seniors. “Playing matches like these is always a good learning experience.”