Today, the Owls clinched our first Condor League tennis title with a 10-8 victory against the Cate School. The match was full of surprises, upsets, comebacks, and excellent play all around, so it was a fitting way for us to win the title.
Round 1: Laguna 4, Cate 2
In the first round, we got a quick win from Martin Barnick and Jack Espy, which would turn out to be vital to our success today, as they beat recent Ojai Invitational participant Abhay Singh and Thys Northup 6-0. Also victorious were Ben Furukawa and Phillip Hicks in singles, and Eddie Conk/Benji Sorensen pulled out a 7-5 win at #1 doubles after falling behind 3-0 early. Meanwhile, Tristan Prinz had his hands full against Jason Xiao, who had played doubles for Cate all season long, but would go on to sweep our guys today in singles.
Round 2: Laguna 7, Cate 5
The second round was a relative stalemate as Xiao continued his stellar play against Ben, who had numerous 50-plus ball rallies and battled mightily in the loss. Elsewhere, What looked to be a routine win for Tristan (who had triple set-point at 5-1) turned into a 7-5 win and Phillip Hicks pulled out a close win against the Cate #1. In doubles play, Cate struck first with easy wins against our #2-3 teams, before Eddie and Benji came through with another clutch win at the #1 spot.
Round 3: Laguna 10, Cate 8
Round three started off with Cate wins against our #2-3 doubles to even the score at 7-7. Next, Xiao closed out Phillip to sweep his singles matches, but was followed immediately by a third win and sweep from Eddie and Benji at #1 doubles, making the score 8-8 with two matches on-court. With the match on the racquets of Ben and Tristan, I felt confident that we could get it done, but the knowledge that a 9-9 tie would not be going our way game-score wise made for a tense finale. Tristan went up 4-1 quickly, but Ben had his hands full and was down 3-2. As Tristan came off-court with a 6-1 victory, Ben rallied to even the match at 3-3, then go up 4-3. A break of the Cate player’s serve put Ben in the drivers seat, but Michael Revord broke back. In the final game, Ben was able to outplay his opponent, who was visibly tiring and he forced several errors to record a 6-4 victory in the deciding match.
I want to highlight the key play from our singles guys, who have played amazing tennis all season, but this match was an awakening for our doubles in particular. After playing well below their potential for the last few weeks, Eddie/Benji and Martin/Jack came through with some of the best tennis I’ve seen from them and gave us the lift we needed to win. Big credit also goes to Atty Roddick and Justin Palmer for battling with tough Cate opponents all day and to Conrad Perry, who did an excellent job of keeping us all up-to-date and aware of the match-score scenarios. It’s a shame Brendon Nylen was off on a journalism trip because part of this victory belongs to him, too (maybe given that particular skill-set I should have gotten him to write this post!).
This victory also belongs to the wonderful, supportive parents at Laguna who have given us everything we need to be successful, as well as Mike Biermann, who has made a real effort to support us and has been out cheering us on at a number of matches. Finally, this win belongs to the Laguna guys who I’ve already graduated, who laid the groundwork for this day with their efforts and enthusiasm over the previous three years I have been coaching the Owls.
Next stop: CIF D4 Playoffs