Merced's Sofranek to play for CCC tennis title

Merced standout battles her way into CCC title match

slynch@mercedsunstar.comOctober 16, 2012 

Charlotte Sofranek needed to go against her instincts.

The defending Central California Conference Singles Tournament champion rode her big serve and forehand to a huge lead in her semifinal match on Tuesday afternoon.

The Merced senior won the opening set against Turlock's Natalia Lima 6-2 and held a commanding 4-1 lead in the second set.

A tactical change by Lima midway through the second set, however, turned the match on its head.

Using a defensive approach, the Turlock No. 1 ran off nine straight games to take the second set and go up 3-0 in the third.

Merced coach Keith Tetangco went over during the break and advised Sofranek to be more patient.

She took it to heart, fighting off 3-0 and 5-3 deficits to pull out a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 victory.

That sets up a championship showdown on Thursday morning with Pitman's Britney Leon. Leon won the other semifinal when Turlock's Jillian Temple was forced to retire with an injury while down one set to none.

"That was a much more mental test than physical," said Sofranek. "Going with a conservative, consistency game is definitely my Plan B.

"I like to have matches where we're hitting the ball with pace, but she went to her conservative game and got back in it when I started making mistakes.

"When I got down 3-0, coach (Tetangco) told me I just needed to start winning one point at at time, and really that's what I did."

A match that started off with a lot of energy and pace turned into a slow grind in the third. Neither competitor wanted to be the one to make the mistake, and a lot of long rallies ensued.

Despite Sofranek fighting her way back into the third set, Lima responded with two quick games to go up 5-3 and had a chance to clinch the match on her serve.

A pair of double faults opened the door, and Sofranek broke Lima to keep things alive.

"That was huge, because she has a big serve," Sofranek said. "When it's on, all you can do is hope to get it back over the net."

Sofranek rode the momentum, closing the decisive set with a 4-0 run to beat Lima for the first time this season.

"They're so evenly matched and it showed as they went back and forth at each other," Merced coach Judy Douglas said. "But that was a great comeback by Charlotte. She really deserved it."

Sofranek rode her way to the semifinals with straight-set victories over Pitman's Brianna Wheeler and Atwater's Roselena Duran. Lima Took out Golden Valley's Hushe Lee and Bulldog teammate Jenna Anderson.

Leon had straight-set wins over Buhach Colony's Katrina Hill and Glendalyn Smith in the first two rounds.

The singles title match will get under way at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Merced High. The CCC Doubles Tournament is set for 9 a.m.

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