By Steve Breazeale
Losing in the semifinals of the CIF-SS tournament to University back in November left a bad taste in the mouth of the entire Dana Hills girls tennis team. With the loss, the Dolphins were denied a shot at their fourth CIF-SS title in six years and their sixth straight finals appearance. In all other seasons past it would have meant the end of the road for a southern California high school girls tennis team.
But luckily for the Dolphins, 2012 was the inaugural season of the CIF USTA Southern Regional Tennis Championships and for the first time ever, the top girls tennis teams from Southern California would be able to play for a regional title. It would be new life for the Dolphins who, after their strong season and playoff performance, earned a berth in the elite 16-team field.
The No. 3 seeded Dolphins coasted their way through the first two rounds of the regional with back-to-back 7-0 wins over Stockdale on November 13 and Granada Hills on November 16. They faced some resistance in a 4-3 win over Campbell Hall in the semis on November 16 but ultimately found themselves in the championship match against Peninsula on December 1 at the Racquet Club of Irvine.
As the final match wore on the Dolphins hopes landed in the hands of an unlikely player in sophomore Mona Mosavi, who had not started for most of the season but had the hot hand going into the tournament.
The bout between the two teams was tied at 3-3 and Mosavi, in the midst of the last scheduled match of the day, had just lost her first set, 2-6. It was then that head coach Justin Green saw Mosavi switch into high gear to rally and win the match, and title, for the Dolphins with two consecutive set wins of 6-2 and 6-4. Mosavi’s match win gave the Dolphins a 4-3 edge over the Panthers.
“(Mosavi) stepped up huge for us in that match and played under some unbelievable pressure by playing some of her best tennis of the year,” Green said.
Dana Hills and Peninsula split the singles format 2-2, which consists of four matches total. Dolphin senior Alyssa Smith and Mosavi both won their singles matchups. In the regional format there are only three doubles matches played and that is where the Dolphins bested their opponent by taking two out of three. The Dolphins top duo of Jessica Perez and Cassidy Spearman won their match 6-1, 6-1, while Margo Pletcher and AJ Gomer won theirs, 6-4, 6-2.
“We wanted to be able to say we won the first ever regional tournament and we did that,” Green said. “All of our girls were playing at a high level and they were playing some of their best tennis over the last two weeks when it mattered most.”
On December 5, Smith went on to have even more success, as she claimed the CIF-SS Individual Championship with a two set victory over Dorothy Tang of San Marino. The Dolphin senior rattled off consecutive 6-1 and 6-2 victories to claim the title, which is the second in Dana Hills history.
The Perez and Spearman doubles team reached the semifinals in CIF competition but lost in three sets.