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Sophomore singles' star cruises to individual title for Crusaders, who take Metro tournament

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit sophomore Farida Abdelmoneum won her first singles Metro League championship on Saturday.

Farida Abdelmoneum is a ferocious, power-hitting southpaw who relies on strength and forcefulness as her tennis foundation.

It's appropriate that the Jesuit sophomore female singles' standout patterns her game after Serena Williams as the Crusader sprints around the court, swinging with velocity and sniper-like precision serving the ball.

As a freshman, however, Abdelmoneum abruptly lost in the district final to Sunset sophomore Serim Jin, an unruffled, supremely conditioned player who didn't possess the same physicality as her lefty counterpart but won Metro with staying power and sense.

Jin opened Abdelmoneum's eyes and uncovered parts of her game she didn't know needed polishing.

Now fast forward to Saturday's Metro League district championship. Jin didn't play high school tennis this season, preferring to play UTSA only. But wiser and better conditioned, Abdelmoneum roared through district bracket and beat Sunset's Lucy Erickson in the final 6-0, 6-1.

"I feel really honored to have this opportunity," Abdelmoneum said. "I'm really proud and made sure I was respectful toward everyone and tried to represent my school well. Being more sportsman-like was one of my biggest goals this year. Rather than winning state, I wanted to represent Jesuit well and be happy and positive on the court."

Jesuit, after losing the Metro tournament to Sunset a year ago, reclaimed the Metro crown by half a point over the Apollos. The difference-making match pitted Jesuit's Amreen Sandhu against Sunset's Irina Ivanova, which Sandhu won to swing the Metro tournament title to the Crusaders. Sunset won the Metro League regular season title after beating Jesuit head-to-head in the regular season.

"We're all supportive of each other and cheering each other on, so every match is a big match for us," Abdelmoneum said. "We're happy for the girls who qualified for state and looking forward to state as a team."

Abdelmoneum lost just one game all tournament long, winning each match 6-0, 6-0 sans the championship bout. It was a dominant display befitting of a player coming into her own in just her sophomore season. Fitness-wise Abdelmoneum said she's in the best shape of her young career after running more on her own away from the court and sprinting side-to-side in practice instead of playing points.

"I had to adjust my training to the fitness level I want to be at," Abdelmoneum said.

Against Erickson, Abdelmoneum said she found an equilibrium of aggression and positivity that pushed her through a breezy 6-0 first set. Abdelmoneum knew Erickson was a stable and steady foe, so unforced errors wouldn't do. A year ago, Jin induced Abdelmoneum into a number of missed shots that were makeable both close to the net and along the baseline. But now, Abdelmoneum said she's channeled her attacking style into a more tempered mentality and learned to trust her cardio.

"I was surprised the score was 6-0, 6-1 because (Erickson) is a really consistent player," Abdelmoneum said. "If it was last year I know it would've been a three-setter. But today I was energized and pumped up, even in the heat and the sun. I used my energy to get to every ball, which is great."

Abdelmoneum is the 6A's No. 2 seed in the singles' bracket, just behind reigning state champion Lizzy Stevens from Tigard.

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