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Gealer finishes career on top

Tennis: Sarah Gealer's senior year was her best in an overall very impressive high school career with Titans.

January 06, 2012|By Mario Aguirre, Special to the Sun

Sarah Gealer had a relatively small list of things she hadn't accomplished heading into her final season with the San Marino High girls' tennis team.

As a freshman, she was named the team's MVP. Twice she earned co-MVP honors. She helped the Titans win back-to-back CIF division titles. And she was a runner-up twice for the Rio Hondo League singles championship.

About the only thing remaining was the league's singles crown, which she secured in November by beating teammate Dorothy Tang, 6-3, 1-6, 10-7.

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Gealer advanced to the round of 16 matches at the CIF Individuals Tournament and finished her senior campaign with a 42-2 mark, cementing her being voted the All-Area Girls' Singles Player of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Pasadena Sun, Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

"Sarah had such a great year and proved herself to be so match-tough this season," Titans Coach John Christopher said. "She's a great striker of the ball and a true champion."

As San Marino prepared for the start of the season, Christopher used Gealer to demonstrate forehand and backhand drills to the rest of the team.

Christopher, a certified tennis pro and first-year coach with the program, was in awe.

"She really looks like a professional," he said at the time. "If you were to walk out here and didn't know enough about tennis, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between her and a ranked pro.

"That's just how hard she hits and how flat and accurate she is."

Gealer proved to be so dominant, along with Tang, that some opposing schools conceded losing singles and instead paired top individuals to compete in doubles, hoping to challenge the Titans that way.

With her 18-0 individual league mark, Gealer helped San Marino become the first Rio Hondo League team in recent memory to sweep both first and second place in singles and doubles.

Facing Tang for a third straight year in the league singles championship, Gealer earned her first title and added one of the few prizes missing from her high school resume.

"It was like any other match," said Gealer, who was named the team's MVP this season. "We've played a lot in junior tennis — outside from high school tennis — so it was like any other match. It wasn't weird."

The feeling of competing against her longtime friend in Tang may have felt like any other match, but the victory itself, she says, ranks as her biggest of the year.

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