By Zach Cavanagh
CLAREMONT – When the final point was scored on Friday afternoon between Dana Hills’ girls tennis team and Mira Costa, the result wasn’t unexpected. In fact, it was the same score as the first match between the two teams two months ago.
However, for the Dolphins, it wasn’t just about the result. It was the fact they were even competing in the match in the first place.
Despite another singles sweep for Dana Hills senior Courtney Swift, Mira Costa beat Dana Hills at its own game in the doubles, and the top-seeded Mustangs defeated the Dolphins, 13-5, to capture the CIF-SS Division 1 championship at the Claremont Club.
“It’s huge,” Dana Hills coach Justin Green said of making the Final. “We came in and beat a lot of seeds through the tournament. We beat teams that we supposedly weren’t supposed to beat and got better through the year. It’s a big deal. It was a fun run.”
Dana Hills beat San Marcos, 10-8, on the road in the first round and upset No. 3 seed Beckman, 11-7, in the second round. In the quarterfinals, the Dolphins avenged a regular season loss to Murrieta Valley, 10-8, and moved on to defeat Troy in a hard-fought match, 10-8, to reach the Final.
“It was a lot of fun,” Swift said of the run. “Especially because we hadn’t been to a Final in any of my years here. Everyone was super excited about it. Everyone cared a lot and tried their best.”
It was Dana Hills’ first trip to the CIF-SS Final since the Dolphins won the title in 2011 and their 12 appearance overall.
— SouthOCsports (@SouthOCsports) November 9, 2018
It was evident from the start that it was probably Mira Costa’s day as it was in a 13-5 win on Sept. 12.
Dana Hills rode sweeps or near sweeps of its doubles matches on its the way to the Final, but Mira Costa swept the doubles on Friday. Dana Hills went down swinging forcing two tiebreakers in the final round of doubles, including a 14-point tiebreaker, but Mira Costa found the edge each time.
“Just overall, they (Mira Costa) played better today and they were the better team and deserved to win,” Green said. “I’m proud of our girls. They fought hard, and they got better throughout the year.”
All five Dana Hills points came in singles with the sweep by Swift and wins by GG Banducci and Sammy Harris.
“She’s carried us throughout the last four years,” Green said of Swift. “She had another outstanding performance and gave us a chance.”
Swift suffered an injury midway through the season that hampered her late in the league season, but the Air Force Academy-bound senior on back on track for a strong run through the playoffs.
“I didn’t get to play as well as I wanted to the whole season or as much as I wanted to,” Swift said. “It’s better now, so have to get back into it and the tournaments too.”
Due to concern of that injury, Swift competed as a doubles pair with Drae Fresenius in the South Coast League tournament. The pair squared off with teammates Stila Fresenius and Malia Rivera in the league final to both qualify for the CIF-SS individual tournament, and Swift and Drae Fresenius took the league title.
“Tennis, in general, is such an individual sport,” Swift said, “but when you’re playing doubles, you have a partner. Drae is one of my best friends, so it makes it a lot of fun. Even if we’re losing, we’re just having a good time.”
So the fun will continue for both Dana Hills doubles teams in the CIF-SS individual tournament, which kicks off on Nov. 19.
“We have a lot of fun,” Swift said of her pair with Drae Fresenius. “We never get mad at each other if we miss. In the end, we know it’s just a game.”