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Chiefs maintain their winning stride

With a carbon-copy lineup returning from a team that tied for second in last year's Class 3A championships, Chamberlain entered this season as an odds-on favorite to duplicate its success from a year ago.

So far, so good midway through the season for the Chiefs, who are undefeated through nine matches (9-0, 5-0), including a defeat of Sickles on Monday, and rarely have been tested.

Heading the Chiefs' formidable lineup is junior Jamie Mera, a state finalist at the No. 1 singles position and a Times' first-team, all-county selection last season. Mera's strengths are her powerful serve and groundstrokes, particularly a forehand she can use to hit a winner from any angle.

"She's gotten better over the last couple of years - a little bigger and a little stronger," Chamberlain coach Mike Zanatian said.

Jennifer Miller, a sophomore who teamed with Chelsea Townes to win a state title at No. 2 doubles last season, gives Chamberlain a formidable duo at the top of its lineup. Miller, who could play No. 1 singles on most county teams, was also a first-team, all-county pick in 2006.

"(Jen's) got all the basic strokes," Zanatian said. "And she's just very competitive out there. She doesn't like losing a single point."

Combine Mera and Miller with the experience from last year's state run and Chamberlain should be tough to beat come tournament time.

"I think everyone has improved (from last season)," said Mera, who will team with Miller at No. 1 doubles for the first time this season.

"We've been working really hard, and we're all playing pretty well. We got a lot of good matches in last year, and we know what we're capable of."

Chamberlain should get another good match in April 5 when the Chiefs take on Megan Broderick-led Alonso. That match, between potentially the county's best teams, should give Chamberlain a stern test as the district and region tournaments approach.

"We're feeling really good," Miller said. "We're excited because (the state tournament) was so much fun last year and now we know what's coming so we're a little more prepared.

"We won't be as nervous as we were last year."

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