Merced girls net victory over Downey

jcortez@modbee.com jcortez@modbee.comNovember 5, 2013 

Left-handed tennis players usually give righties fits.

So Merced High's No. 1 singles player Isabel Serafin, a southpaw, should've had an advantage over Downey's Caeli Benson during the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 tournament on Monday at Downey Park.

But Benson has faced left-handers Symone Jacques of Beyer and Lorel Rodriguez of Gregori — the top two players in the the Modesto Metro Conference — this season, so she had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-4 win over Serafin.

As good as Benson was, however, her victory wasn't enough and the Knights fell to Merced 5-3 (with the No. 2 doubles match suspended due to darkness).

The Bears will travel today to take on Delta River League champion Oak Ridge at Broadstone Racquet Club in Folsom.

"The DRL is a very tough league and Oak Ridge is very good," Merced coach Judy Douglas said. "It's going to be tough, but they're ready."

Today's match gets underway at 2 p.m., while Downey's season comes to a close.

"The girls did well today," said Knights coach Lisa Brown-Jimenez. "This was a good test for them. I think they realize that if they want to take their games to the next level, they need to invest more time into it."

Benson, a senior, used a serve-and-volley attack to get ahead on Serafin, who couldn't get her returns deep enough to keep Benson on the baseline.

"I like the net," Benson said. "It's my favorite thing."

It was apparent.

"She was really good at the net today," Serafin said. "I tried to use a lot of lobs, but they weren't working. The wind kind of affected me today."

Downey's other win in singles competition came from Amber Walsh, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Rebekah Latronica in the No. 6 matchup.

The Knights tandem of Stephanie Vershay and Eleni Quick bested Jill Tiu and Ashton Espino 6-4, 6-3 in the No. 1 doubles match.

"I was very proud of my No. 1 doubles team," Brown-Jimenez said. "They had a big win today.

"It's been a good season for Downey. They played very well today; I'm very pleased with my girls."

MODESTO — Despite losses in the No. 1 singles and doubles matches, Merced High advanced to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls tennis tournament with a 5-3 win (one match was suspended because of darkness) over Downey High on a blustery Monday at Downey Park.

The Bears will travel today to take on Delta River League champion Oak Ridge at Broadstone Racquet Club in Folsom. The match gets underway at 2 p.m.

"The DRL is a very tough league and Oak Ridge is a very good," Merced coach Judy Douglas said. "It's going to be tough, but they're ready."

In the No. 1 singles match, Downey's Caeli Benson used a strong serve-and-volley game to defeat left-hander Isabel Serafin 6-2, 6-4.

Serafin couldn't get her returns deep enough to keep the senior Benson on the baseline.

"She was really good at the net today," Serafin said. "I tried to use a lot of lobs, but they weren't working. The wind kind of affected me today."

The Knights tandem of Stephanie Vershay and Eleni Quick bested Jill Tiu and Ashton Espino 6-4, 6-3 in the No. 1 doubles match.

But Merced's depth was too much.

The Bears got singles wins from Jaymee Illescas, Nastassja Magliba, Lisa Miao and Dianne Eltagunde, while their doubles victory came from the No. 3 tandem of Julia McLeod and Alexa Lua.

Maria Hammett and Carly Perryman, Merced's No. 2 duo, fought back from a 5-2 deficit to win the first set 7-5 over Holly Addis and Gabi Lark. Hammett and Perryman were leading 4-3 in the second set when the lights went out.

"Most of the matches were really, really, close," Douglas said. "Nothing was simple at all. A lot of these matches could have gone either way."

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