Impressive results keep coming for Perez, Spearman


SEAL BEACH - Three years ago, a pair of freshmen from Dana Hills appeared on the high school tennis circuit equipped with seemingly endless potential and a nose for the biggest moments.

Not much has changed since Jessica Perez and Cassidy Spearman reached the quarterfinals of the 2009-10 CIF-SS Individual Championships.

The Dolphins’ top duo -- and No. 2 overall seed in the CIF Individual Championships -- reached the semifinals for the second time in three years by defeating Bridget and Gabrielle Etchegary of El Dorado, 6-1, 6-0, on Wednesday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.

“It’s exciting to be in this position,” Perez said. “I didn’t get a chance to play in this tournament last year so I hope we can go all the way this year.

“We came so close (to winning the CIF doubles championship) the first two years, and now we have a good chance to win this year.”

For Spearman, this season’s run to the final four marks the third consecutive year she has reached the semifinals. Last season, she teamed with Margo Pletcher, and they were eliminated by eventual champions Zoe Katz and Valerie Thong of Campbell Hall of North Hollywood.

“I love playing for my team, but this (tournament) is a little more special because it’s an individuals tournament,” she said. “All the teams are competitive. They want to come out on fire and kick our butts, but we know we’re just as strong. We want to bring that fire right back to them.”

Five Orange County doubles teams reached the quarterfinals, including Mikey Barthelmass and Alex Valenstein (Laguna Hills), Celine Gruaz and Kyla Scott (University) and Shannon Theisen and Danielle Pham (University).

Only Spearman and Perez made it to the semifinals.

“It’s definitely part of our goal to capture this championship,” Perez said. “It’s nice to play for ourselves and at the same time represent our school and team.”

Of the county’s six singles players to reach the round of 16, only Dana Hills’ Alyssa Smith and Tesoro’s Mayci Jones advanced to the quarterfinals.

Both of their partially-completed matches were postponed to Thursday (11:30 a.m) due to rain.

Weather permitting, the tournament will conclude today at Seal Beach Tennis Center.

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