Three seasons ago, Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis made the CIF playoffs for the first time in a decade. That team would go on to win a tight first-round match and hold a 4-2 lead over regional rival Santa Ynez High in the Round of 16. When all was said and done, Santa Ynez came back from that deficit with a 10-8 victory. It was a heartbreaker.
The next year, Santa Ynez beat us 11-7 in regular season play and then went on to win the CIF Division 4 Championships. In that match, Tristan Prinz and Ben Furukawa swept their singles sets and Phillip Hicks added another win at the #3 spot, but doubles got blanked 0-9. It was a heartbreaker.
Last season, Santa Ynez came to play at Laguna but after a few minutes of rain, decided unilaterally to cancel the match. Laguna Blanca seemed primed to finally take the win and the courts were dry shortly after the scheduled start time. The match never got rescheduled. It was a heartbreaker.
This season, there was no heartbreak. Phillip Hicks and Alex Furukawa (Ben Furukawa’s younger brother) continued the trend of two years prior by sweeping at the #1 and #2 singles spots. Today, though, there was also enough firepower in doubles to overcome the Pirates.
Sophomore duo Jason Barnick and Victor Liu played their best tennis of the season, scoring a sweep at #1 doubles with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 performance. These two have been really stepping up their game and have improved markedly from just a few weeks ago. Atty Roddick and Conor Scheinberg added a win at the #2 position.
When the dust settled, the Owls found themselves on top by a narrow 10-8 margin. This is an important victory, not just because of the history, but also because Laguna managed to beat a tough team while playing without the services of Andrew Tolles, a regular feature in the singles lineup who would likely have taken three sets on the day. This suggests that the Owls possess enough depth of talent to take on strong teams, which bodes well for the latter part of the season and CIF Playoffs.
I’m incredibly happy to have this win and to see the progress our team has made in the first month of the season. Alex Furukawa played a terrific first round match against the Santa Ynez #1 and Phillip Hicks played his most intelligent tennis of the season. When these two get it right, our team is always in the hunt for a win and Jason and Victor reached out and grabbed it for us with their excellent doubles play.
Laguna plays again tomorrow at home, taking on Orcutt Academy at 3:30pm. Following that match, spring break will mean a two week hiatus, but there is plenty of competitive tennis left to be played. The Owls are still to face old Condor League rivals (Cate, Thacher) and will get a chance to avenge the 9-9 loss in last year’s playoffs against Buckley.