Getting closer

The SMC Women's Tennis team began their journey for another appearance to the state championship Tuesday at Reed Park as they handled their first playoff opponent, Rio Hondo, with ease.

Heavily favored, the number one seeded Santa Monica Corsairs were host to the number eight seeded Rio Hondo Road Runners in their first playoff match. The Corsairs came into the match focused and ready to take care of business.

The SMC women dominated the Road Runners from beginning with a 5-1 victory, the Corsairs claiming victories from the first five spots and Rio Honda claiming their only victory in the sixth spot. The win in the singles matches were enough to get the win making the doubles matches unnecessary.

SMC tennis alumnus Sally Mercado who played on the team in 2009 was in attendance on Tuesday and saw some key differences in this years' team that separates them from her years with the team.

"I see a lot more dedication on this year's team then when I played," said Mercado whose Corsair squad never made the playoffs.

The Corsairs success started at the beginning of the season where they where determined to punch their ticket back to the state championship.  Led by returning Co-captains Jutta Collett and Gwendolyn Kauffmann, the Corsairs started the season off on a tear winning their first 5 games with ease beating teams such as Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Mt. San Antonio. "We have all the tools we need to succeed this year," said head coach Richard Goldenson.

Even though the Corsairs suffered their only loss early in the season to Cal State LA, coach Goldenson took the loss as a victory, "It showed we can hang in there with a Division II school and compete at a high level."  Even with that loss the Corsairs were still in great position to win their conference and get a number one seed into the playoffs.

It seemed as though the loss had strengthened the team seeing that they would go on to obliterate the competition, winning their final 8 games and cruising to a second straight conference championship, "They just need to show up and play," coach Goldenson said of his team.

With the playoffs right around the corner the Corsairs took on the undefeated Saddleback Gauchos in their last match, the Gauchos as some remember, defeated the Corsairs in the state championship last year in Fresno.

This was a pivotal match for the Corsairs seeing that this would determine if they would get the number one seed and home-court advantage going into the playoffs.  It was a tough match but they went on to win the match 7-2.

With a second straight conference championship in hand and all of the players highly motivated, the Corsairs look to finish what they started by finishing the season off with a state championship.

The Corsairs will now look towards the Riverside Tigers who upset the number four seeded and South Coast Conference Champion Mt. San Antonio College.  With that big victory by the Tigers they are looking too put up more than a fight against the Corsairs.