Sunny Hills’ Daniela Borruel and Mater Dei’s doubles capture CIF-SS individual titles in tennis

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CLAREMONT — Sunny Hills’ Daniela Borruel claimed another frameable prize that might require some creative design to display in her home. Mater Dei made history in doubles, and hugged it out after an epic final.

Orange County girls tennis impressively pushed the limits Thursday at the CIF-SS individual championships at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College’s Biszantz Family Tennis Center.

Borruel won her second singles title in three years by defeating two rising opponents without dropping a set.

And Mater Dei became the first county program in almost a century to have both teams in a section doubles final.

Chloe Vu and Haley Tran emerged with the doubles title after a three-set clash with teammates Athena Wardy and Olivia Mlouk.

Mater Dei doubles players, from left, of Olivia Mlouk, Athena Wardy, Chloe Vu and Haley Tran met in the finals of the CIF-SS individual championships Thursday in Claremont. Vu and Tran won in three sets. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Sunny Hills junior Daniela Borruel, left, and Palos Verdes’ Danielle...

Sunny Hills junior Daniela Borruel, left, and Palos Verdes’ Danielle Nikmehr placed first and second, respectively, at the CIF-SS individual tennis championships Thursday in Claremont. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Daniela Borruel of Sunny Hills hits a backhand during the...

Daniela Borruel of Sunny Hills hits a backhand during the finals of the CIF-SS individual tennis championships in Claremont on Thursday. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The match lasted so long — about 2 1/2 hours —  that it encountered a brief rain delay late in the third set.

But for the second consecutive year, there was no denying an Orange County sweep of the top honors.

Borruel kicked off the finals by defeating Palos Verdes sophomore Danielle Nikmehr 6-2, 6-2 to emphatically complete an undefeated season.

Borruel won the singles title at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center as a freshman. She opted to play doubles with a teammate as a sophomore, and lost in the semifinals.

“I’m just grateful to be here,” Borruel said, “because to be honest, at this point, even (Wednesday), every match is so close. It’s a flip of a coin, and basically whoever is mentally tougher, I feel like, just wins.”

Borruel, who carries an Universal Tennis Rating of about 10, flashed her well-rounded skillset against the improving Nikmehr, who didn’t qualify for individuals last fall.

She blasted a forehand winner to break Nikmehr’s serve on championship point. She also displayed a strong backhand and plenty of agility.

“She’s an amazing player,” Nikmehr said of Borruel. “Every ball is basically perfect off her racket.”

👀Sunny Hills’ Daniela Borruel for the … CIF TITLE #2!

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) November 30, 2023

In the semifinals, Borruel defeated Ayala freshman Natalie Kha 6-3, 6-3. Earlier in the season, Kha opened a 3-0 lead in a nonleague match before Borruel rallied for a 6-4 triumph.

In a customary celebration, Borruel posed with the giant-sized bracket sheet that showed her trek to the title. The sheet from her freshman year now resides as a framed memento in her home.

“I’ll make some space (on the wall),” she of her latest bracket. “I had a really good season and I had a lot of good competition.”

“She’s a special girl,” Sunny Hills coach Chris Ghareebo said of Borruel. “She’s got potential to go pro one day if she wants to. … She’s got the talent and the God-given ability to play tennis but she’s waking up every day at 5 a.m. to workout. She’s hitting at night after our matches.”

Mater Dei joined Fullerton in 1925 as the only county schools to have both teams in the same CIF-SS doubles final.

Vu and Tran, the Trinity League champion, won an intense final 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 against Wardy and Mlouk, the Trinity League runner-up.

Their league finale also lasted three sets.

“It’s more bittersweet,” Tran said of the victory Thursday. “It was fun but also (stinks), too. I’m glad that we all made it to the finals.”

👀it’s not a Mater Dei girls tennis practice … it’s high-level match for the CIF doubles title, the Monarchs program has come a long way! They’re showing why they were state champs!

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) November 30, 2023

Mater Dei won the inaugural CIF State title last week, and showcased its depth one more time.

For Vu, is was her second straight CIF title in doubles. The UC Riverside-bound senior won the crown last season with Natalie Lynch, now at Cal Poly SLO.

Mater Dei coach Debbie Shaffer talked to her players before the final about remembering their friendship after the championship point. And right on cue, the hugs and dinner plans flowed afterward.

“Of course,” Vu said, “we’re all best friends even outside of tennis.”

More coverage to come. Please check back.

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