Giant slayer Sherif will battle Inoue in all-Orange Coast singles final

Shayee Sherif. (Photo by David Loveton)
Shayee Sherif. (Photo by David Loveton)

By Dave Loveton
Santa Barbara City College Sports Information

 OJAI – Shayee Sherif was the giant slayer on an overcast Saturday in the CCCAA Women’s Tennis Championships as the Orange Coast College freshman ousted the No. 2 and 1 seeds in singles and a No. 1 in doubles at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club.

 Sherif, the No. 4 seed, is a freshman from San Juan Capistrano. She upset No. 2 Stephanie Huang of Chabot in a marathon quarterfinal that lasted 2½ hours. The scores were 6-4, 7-6 (6). After a half-hour break, she returned to Court 4 and beat Yu Seung Suh, the No. 1 South seed from Fullerton, 6-3, 6-0, to reach the final.

 Sherif will take on teammate Miri Inoue in Sunday’s women’s final at Libbey Park at 11 a.m. 

 “That quarterfinal was probably the toughest I’ve played because I had to grind for every single point,” said Sherif. “There was no rest between any shot or point. It was close all the way.

 “The points were pretty close in the semifinal too. I think my shot selection made the difference. I was able to do what she didn’t like. I tried to give her the balls that she wasn’t comfortable with.”

 Sherif said she’s only played Inoue once in a practice set and Inoue prevailed 7-6 after a 13-11 tiebreaker.

 Orange Coast claimed the CCCAA team title on Wednesday with a 5-1 triumph over Foothill. The Pirates had three of the four semifinalists on Saturday.

 Inoue defeated No. 6 Riko Tanagawa of El Camino 6-3, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and then outlasted her OCC doubles partner, No. 5 Nicole Knickerbocker, 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the semis.

 “It was hard to play Nicole,” said Inoue, a sophomore from Sydney, Australia. “I was really nervous before the match. We’ve played in practice but never in an official tournament.”

 The first set was a back-and-forth affair with Inoue taking leads ot 5-4 and 6-5, only to see Knickerbocker win her serve each time to tie it and force a tiebreaker. Inoue raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker to seven points (win by 2) and won 7-1. Inoue led 3-2 and 4-3 in the second set, then won the last two games to earn her spot in the final.

 “When I was up 4-3, I told myself, ‘OK, eight more points … you’ve got this, you just have to focus,’ “ said Inoue. “I won the eighth game 40-love and I was really focused in the second set.”

 Sherif and Inoue are also in Sunday’s doubles semifinals, albeit with different partners. Sherif and Camryn Mason, the No. 3 seed, eliminated No. 1 Eva Spindler/Haley Van Ormen of American River in a 4-6, 6-1, 10-8 comeback win. They’ll take on No. 2 Madi Giese/Lina Ito of El Camino at Libbey Park South at 8 a.m.

 Inoue and Knickerbocker, the top-seeded doubles duo, won their quarterfinal 6-1, 6-1 and will battle No. 4 Halla Alajeely/Sabrina Mendy of Irvine Valley on Sunday morning. Alajeely/Mendy outlasted No. 2 Lisa Bargeman/Stephanie Huang of Chabot 6-1, 2-6, 10-6.

 The doubles final is set for Sunday at Libbey Park, starting at 2 p.m.