Fit and Firing Owls off to 2-0 Start with Convincing Early-Season Wins


Hard work (including the team tradition “rain run” pictured above) has put the Owls in prime position to take another step forward this season. Laguna Blanca has begun the 2018 campaign with a pair of victories, with another four matches to be played in the next 9 days. Here are the recaps:

Laguna Blanca v. St. Bonaventure, 18-0 Win

Laguna recorded 13 sets won 6-0 on the way to an unblemished victory over St. Bonaventure to open the season. In singles, Conor Scheinberg won his sets 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 in his debut at number one singles. Kai Nakamura added three wins of his own and Alex Furukawa was dominant in his two sets of play.

In doubles, Laguna fielded a balanced lineup, with the first round going 18-0 in games to the Owls. Even with substitutions in the second and third round, only three games were lost in 9 sets of doubles play.

Senior Kelvin Chen and sophomore Kevin Khodabandehlou won three rounds 6-1, 6-0, 6-0, while sophomore John-Henry Schulz partnered with senior captain Victor Liu and freshman Ryan Purkait to record three 6-0 victories on the day. Jason Barnick and Nic Richmond won two 6-0 sets before Sherlock Jian and Erik Qin took over for a nice 6-2 win of their own.

Perhaps the most exciting match of the day was the very last on-court, with Tony Xu battling Nick Rainwater (the strongest of the three singles players from Bonny) in a see-saw match. Xu held his nerve in a number of tense points to win the final two games and take a 6-4 victory.

Laguna Blanca @ Villanova, 13-5 Win

The Owls were dominant in doubles, winning all but one set and also managed to win the singles battle 5-4.

Senior pairing Jason Barnick and Kelvin Chen led the line in doubles with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 sweep. Senior/sophomore combo Victor Liu and John-Henry Schulz also went undefeated, while freshman Nic Richmond paired with two teammates (Kevin Khodabandehlou and Ryan Purkait) to go 2-1 on the day.

Richmond’s play was particularly impressive, and the combination with fellow freshman Purkait was a text-book demonstration of doubles net-play. Both players actively pursued every opportunity to poach and finish points at the net, overwhelming the #2 doubles team from Villanova with a barrage of volley and overhead winners.

In singles, the match was quite even, with Villanova fielding a strong tournament player in junior Charles Quest. Both Connor Scheinberg and Alex Furukawa could topple Quest, losing 3-6, but they managed two wins each on the day. Kai Nakamura had a slow start, but came good in the final round, beating #2 singles player Cole Burke 6-0.

What’s next for Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis?

Laguna next faces Santa Ynez, a perennial rival. Last season’s match against the Pirates also came early in the season, with injury and lack of preparation significantly impacted the 6-12 result. This one is ear-marked by the Owls as one of the most important contests of the season and a chance at redemption. The match will be held at Laguna Blanca at 3:15pm on Wednesday, March 7th.

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