Corona del Mar
Coach: Brian Ricker (10th year)
Players to watch: Lauren Thaxter (Sr.); Riley Gerdau (Jr.); Kenzie Purcifull (Sr.); Shelby Anderson (Jr.); Siena Sharf (Soph.); Taylor Fogarty (Jr.); Kimmia Naaseh (Sr.); Erica Chen (Soph.).
You should know: This is the deepest Sea Kings team that Ricker has had in years. CdM returns seven of nine starters from a year ago, when CdM finished second in the Pacific Coast League and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals. Ricker said there also is a strong freshman class, which contributes to the depth.
Fresh off a summer full of tournaments, Thaxter headlines the returners, coming back for her third year at No. 1 singles. She advanced to the league semifinals last year. Ricker said she is doing better than ever at managing her atypical migraine headaches. Chen is a talented player who won the JV league singles title last year and got moved up toward the end of the year.
Purcifull and Gerdau played at No. 1 doubles last year, but Ricker said the plan is to move Gerdau back to singles, where she played as a freshman. The Sea Kings have the doubles depth to do so.
The Pacific Coast League again appears very strong. Beating University will be a challenge, but Ricker believes CdM could be No. 2 in the league again, and could start the year as high as No. 5 in Division 1.
— Matt Szabo
Coach: Rachel de los Santos (13th year)
Players to watch: Kinley Ohland (Soph.); Slade Garnett (Jr.); Doris Corona (Sr.); Morgan Miller (Jr.); Eden Speel (Soph.); Mai Le (Jr.).
You should know: The Eagles lost several seniors from last year's team, which tied for third in the Orange Coast League and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs. But a young nucleus will help Estancia, as it again tries to finish top-three in league and advance to CIF.
Ohland returns as the No. 1 singles player, and de los Santos praises her natural talent. Ohland will have a busy fall, as she also is a varsity cheerleader for Estancia.
Garnett, a lefty transfer from Texas, also will help Estancia, as will the Eagles' other top singles player, Corona. De los Santos plans to play Miller and Speel at No. 1 doubles, and they are an aggressive team with good volleys at the net. Le is a three-year varsity player who adds depth.
De los Santos said she doesn't mind being in the same league as defending champion Laguna Beach, as it gives her girls something to work for. She hopes that her team can also be more competitive this year against Calvary Chapel, the second-place finisher from last year.
Corona is the only senior starter, so the future also appears bright for the Eagles.
— Matt Szabo