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And, for the fourth time

Valencia will play in Division III finals for 4th year in a row

Posted: November 20, 2008 9:59 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2008 4:54 a.m.

Valencia's Thalia Wilczynski returns a shot Thursday against an Martin Luther King High opponent.

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For each of the past three seasons, the Valencia girls tennis team has reached the Division III finals of the CIF-Southern Section Girls Team Tennis Playoffs.

Senior singles players Thalia Wilczinski and Isabella Fraczek helped the Vikings make it a fourth straight time.

Both Valencia players were part of a 9-0 shutout in singles, in a 13-5 Vikings semifinal win on their home court Thursday over Martin Luther King Jr. High of Riverside.

The Vikings, ironically, will now play Valencia of Placentia in the CIF-Southern Section Division III Final at the Claremont Club in Claremont at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Valencia of Placentia won 14-4 in Thursday's other semifinal over La Reina of Thousand Oaks.

"We'll just enjoy the moment," said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. "There's several hundred players out there who start out playing toward a championship. There's only so many who actually get to play for one."

The Vikings are still yet to win a championship, though, having lost in 2005 to Brentwood and ‘06 and ‘07 to Chadwick.

Valencia's doubles was its strength in its quarterfinal win Wednesday over South Pasadena.

Its singles was the story Thursday.

"That's what we needed to do," said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. "We wanted to sweep singles and tweak out a couple sets in doubles. This was a very close match. I'm glad we got to go to the finals."

Wilczinski came all the way back from a 5-2 deficit to win a tiebreaker in her second-round set against Wolves No. 1 player Natalie Tomlin. Valencia's No. 2 singles player fought back to tie the match at 5. After trailing 6-5, Wilczinski held her serve to tie the match again.

In the tiebreaker, Wilczinski smashed a steady diet of powerful two-handed forehands to win, 7-6 (7-1).

"That was big for us," Kellogg said. "Because it's never over ‘til it's over."

Wilczinski was on the Viking teams that lost in the finals in both of the previous two seasons.

She won her last home match as a Viking 6-3 over M.L. King No. 3 player Anjuli Dasika.

"It's my last match on my home court," Wilczinski said. "I don't want to lose my last match ever at Valencia. Everyone's really pumped up for the finals. We want those little rings. They look really cool."

That set up Fraczek for the minimum 10th set needed to guarantee a victory.

The Vikings' No. 1 singles player delivered, holding off slices hit by Lizzie Naamen to win 6-1.

Fraczek received a big hug from several teammates after her win that clinched the match.

"My coach told me, ‘Bella, this is your last match on your home court,'" said Fraczek, who has been on all three previous finalist teams. "That's when it hit me, that I'm a senior, so I'd better make it worthwhile."

Fraczek took a buzzsaw to cut through her other two matches, beating Tomlin 6-0 and Dasika, 6-0.

Emily Fraczek, who took over the No. 3 singles spot for Shin Jae Kim, beat Tomlin, 6-2. While playing with a sore back, the sophomore won her other two matches 6-0, 7-5.

"She had to hit a lot of tennis balls," Kellogg said. "She was a real trooper for us."

Martin Luther King (20-2), the Big VIII champion, has gone 90-0 in three different leagues the past nine seasons.

The Wolves' strength was in their doubles teams, as evidenced by the 5-4 advantage over Valencia's sophomore-laden teams.

"They have ranked players in their singles," said Martin Luther King head coach Becky Gagnon. "We focus a lot on our doubles players, because we knew we were going to have a tough time in singles."

Four of the doubles matches were close.

The most airtight one was won by the No. 1 Valencia doubles team of Clarice Fraczek and Amanda Jansson, 7-6 (9-7). The duo beat Wolves' No. 3 team Nicki Vortnessi and Makenna DeMicco. The Vikings swept their other matches 6-2, 6-4.

The Viking No. 3 team of Ashley Karzin and Eunice Pack lost 7-6 (7-3) to Brooke Vorhees and Anjali Mulchandani. They also lost to Sally Kim and Jane Kim, M.L. King's No. 1 team, 6-4.

Chelsie Dietz and Andrea Zammit won their first-round set 6-3, before losing their next two matches 6-0, 6-1.


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