The final score was 11-7 in the quarterfinal match of the CIF Division V playoffs, with the Santa Ynez girls tennis team beating St. Margaret's, thus advancing to today's semis. But the match was anything but close.

"All year we've been emphasizing the importance of this first round of the playoffs," Coach Larry Popkin said Wednesday. "And boy, where we ever right."

The Lady Pirates' No.2 singles player, Jeaneal Gunning, set the tone for the entire day's play when she took more than an hour and a half to defeat St. Margaret's No.2 player. That first match went to the tiebreaker, which finally went 14-12 in Jeaneal's favor. Coach Popkin called it Gunning's "best match of the year."

Singles match No.2 didn't go much easier, as Lady Pirate Sarah Schroeder had to go the distance, winning 7-6 in a tiebreaker.

The Lady Pirates' No.1 singles player, Subi Sundaram, had an easier time in her match, again playing through the singles phase without losing a game in her three sets.

Santa Ynez' top doubles team, Krista Armenta and Chelsea Nash, also swept their matches, propelling the Lady Pirates into today's semi-final matchup against Anaheim Fairmont Prep, which is the divisions No.2 ranked team. Santa Ynez is rated third in the division.

Popkin was tired from the travel to San Clemente, but relieved about the win.

"It looks like from the scores that we handled them easily," Popkin said early Wednesday morning, "but eight of the matches could have gone either way."

St. Margaret's was an imposing first-round challenge. That school won the CIF division championship two season ago. Santa Ynez has never won a CIF title in girls tennis, although the 1995 squad made it to the finals, before losing to Brentwood.

Nov. 18, 2004

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