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SUNSET GIRLS: Del Rosario plays key role as Gaels nip Panthers

Amber Del Rosario could hear her teammates celebrate Saturday, even if she couldn’t walk over to join them.

Fresh off two wins and a hard-fought loss in the Sunset Region final at Darling Tennis Center, the Gorman freshman sat by herself on a sidewalk trying desperately to stave off cramps in her legs.

Two minutes later, the rest of the Gaels team found Del Rosario and celebrated a title they likely would not have won without her.

Del Rosario’s two victories and Chelsea Crovetti’s clinching win in the final match helped the Gaels capture their seventh region title in the last eight years with a 10-8 win over Palo Verde at Darling Tennis Center. Gorman (13-0) advances to the Division I state tournament, which begins Oct. 18 in Reno.

“All my efforts went toward the team today,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario began her day with a tiebreaker win over Tiffany Newell in a set that took nearly an hour. That win allowed Gorman to take a 4-2 lead after the first round.

“We were 3-3 otherwise,” said Gorman coach Gordon Hammond. “A freshman, playing someone she might have lost to in a normal tournament, it was just unbelievable.”

With only a few minutes to catch her breath, Del Rosario went back out and posted a 6-3 win over Tia Okano to help the Gaels protect their lead and head into the final round up 7-5.

“It decreased my mental strength a lot,” Del Rosario said of the grueling first set. “But my team was really supportive. They helped me get back up.”

The Gaels’ doubles teams of Addie Gardner and Monika Ryan, and Taylor Larreau and Morgan Matley won to bump the lead to 9-5 before Palo Verde (13-1) made it interesting, rattling off a doubles win by Chloe Henderson and Kristen Newell and victories in singles by Tia Okano and Nikki Newell to creep within 9-8.

Crovetti, who lost her second set of the day after holding a 3-0 lead, rebounded nicely and clinched the win by posting a 6-2 victory in the final match.

Crovetti and Del Rosario each went 2-1 in singles, and the Gaels got six points out of their doubles teams — Gardner and Ryan, Larreau and Matley, and Julia MacDonald and Marisol Arvilla.

“We just set this doubles lineup (Friday),” Hammond said. “It was a little bit of a surprise, but we’ve really stressed doubles.”

Henderson and Kristen Newell finished 3-0 in doubles, and Nikki Newell was 3-0 in singles for Palo Verde.

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