Haviland reaches CIF-SDS tennis semifinals

Kylie Haviland, who began playing tennis nine years ago at the Murrieta Tennis Club, closed out her high school career Nov. 8 with the CIF San Diego Section semifinals.

Haviland moved from Murrieta to the 4-S Ranch area of San Diego five years ago when her father took a position as the director of operations for San Diego Self-Storage. She had attended E. Hale Curran Elementary School and Shivela Middle School in Murrieta and is now a senior at Del Norte High School.

“She had a great tournament,” said Del Norte coach Cherise Meoli. “She pulled out two tough matches.”

Haviland won this year’s Valley League individual singles championship and was seeded seventh at the CIF tournament. After receiving byes for the first two rounds she opened CIF tournament play Nov. 7 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Abby Valera of Eastlake. Later that afternoon she faced 14th-seed Kelsey Chen of Torrey Pines.  

Chen won the first set by a 6-4 score, but Haviland evened the match with a 6-3 victory. The CIF tournament does not play a full third set but rather a tiebreaking game to ten points if the players split the first two sets. Haviland took a 10-3 victory over Chen in that tiebreaker.

Chen had defeated Haviland in a set earlier in the season.  

“It was nice to get that back,” Haviland said.

In the quarterfinals Nov. 8, Haviland faced La Jolla High School senior Rozel Hernandez, the tournament’s fourth seed whose next scholastic tennis match will be with the U.S. Naval Academy. Hernandez captured the first set six games to one. Hernandez took a 5-4 lead in the second set and had a 40-15 lead in that set’s tenth game to give her match point, but Haviland then won the next four points to even the set at five games apiece.

“I got lucky and she missed a couple of returns,” Haviland said. “That just told me she was nervous as well.”

The set’s eleventh game saw 12 points played before Hernandez prevailed. Haviland won four of the six points in the twelfth game to even the set.

A tiebreaking game is also used if a set is tied at six games apiece; that game is to seven points. Haviland’s 7-3 win in that tiebreaker gave her a 7-6 victory in the second set and forced the tiebreaking game which constituted the deciding set.

Although Hernandez scored the first point in that tiebreaking game, Haviland won the next five points including one unreturned ace and two serves returned into the net. Hernandez won two of the next three points but put returns into the net on the next two points to give Haviland an 8-3 lead.

Hernandez won the next three points but then placed another return into the net to provide Haviland with a 9-6 margin and match point. Hernandez tied the game/set/match at 9-9 by scoring the next three points.

“She actually picked it up. She had made some unforced errors early,” Haviland said. “She started constructing some solid points.”

Haviland reinforced her own focus.  

“I just cleared my mind,” she said.

A player must win by two points, but when Haviland’s serve was not returned she took a 10-9 lead and when Hernandez returned a ball into the net Haviland won the game by an 11-9 score to also win the set and the two-hour match.

“It’s probably one of my most memorable matches,” Haviland said of the quarterfinals.

“I just kind of lost motivation and focus after I won the first set,” Hernandez said.

“I just kept fighting,” Haviland said. “I fought harder than I’ve ever fought.”

Haviland’s high school career ended with a semifinal loss to top-seeded Monica Robinson of Fallbrook High School, whose coach is Murrieta resident Dave Ramirez. Ramirez is also the pro at the Fallbrook Tennis Club, where Haviland played her first tournament.  

Her first tournament win was in the Girls 12 division of the Fallbrook Fall Junior Satellite Tournament at the Fallbrook Tennis Club in September 2006, and in June 2007 Kraig and Kylie Haviland won the Parent-Child Doubles championship at the Fallbrook Open. Haviland, who is now 17, still trains with Ramirez, as does Robinson.

“We have the same coach, so I knew it was going to be tough,” Haviland said.

“It was exciting. I’m just happy for them both,” Ramirez said of two of his players reaching the semifinals. “It’s just wonderful. It’s awesome.”

Robinson took 6-0 victories in both sets.

“It’s a little disappointing ending with a loss like this,” Haviland said.

“She played really well to get to this point, this far in the tournament,” Meoli said.

“She’s just an offensive player on another level, so I had to play a lot of defense and that’s not my game,” Haviland said of Robinson.

“She has a great serve,” Robinson said of Haviland.

“I was in the zone playing against her,” Robinson said. “My serve, I was mixing it up well.”

“Monica is by far the strongest,” Meoli said. “She’s like a whole different level.”

In both of her sets against Robinson, Haviland had game point in the first game before Robinson came back.  

“That’s something about Monica. She plays the big points really well,” Haviland said.

“I just played each point at a time,” Robinson said.

In the first game of the second set Haviland had a 40-0 lead before Robinson captured the next five points to win the game. “Played each point at a time. I wasn’t thinking about how I was down,” Robinson said. “Once it was deuce I kind of knew I had the game.”

“It doesn’t matter who she’s playing, she sticks to her game plan,” Ramirez said of Robinson. “She plays each point like it’s her last point.”

Ramirez also noted that Robinson adjusts her plans based on opponents’ strength. “Monica has a game plan for when a girl serves pretty well,” he said.

“I’m sure Dave has some things he wants to work with me on after this match,” Haviland said.

“I think Kylie was pleased with her performance,” Meoli said. “She was pretty much on her game. Her serve helped her a lot.”

In 2011 Haviland and Yolanda Pham, who was a junior for CIF purposes but graduated early, won the Valley League individual doubles tournament and reached the finals of the section doubles tournament. In last year’s quarterfinals Haviland and Pham eliminated Hernandez and Allison Klein in 6-4 and 6-1 sets.

Haviland played singles in the 2010 CIF tournament and won her first match before being eliminated in the second round. Because Del Norte did not have a varsity team in 2009, the Nighthawks players were not permitted to enter the league tournament and Haviland thus could not qualify for the CIF tournament.

“It’s really sad that my high school career is over, but I’ve had such a good run,” Haviland said. “I did my best and I had a lot of memorable moments.”

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