Our playoff streak ended at three wins last night, with a defeat coming at the hands of Downey High School in Los Angeles. The CIF Quarterfinal appearance was my sixth in 16 seasons of coaching high school teams in Santa Barbara, but the first for my boys’ team. In fact, it’s the deepest playoff run for Laguna tennis that can be recalled by athletic program staff going back at least twenty years. Here are the final two match recaps:
Laguna Blanca v. Cabrillo/Lompoc (14-4)
On Friday, the Owls validated their position as the #5-seed in CIF Division 4 with a resounding 14-4 win over Cabrillo/Lompoc. The Round-of-16 match was held at Laguna Blanca on a beautiful Santa Barbara day.
Cabrillo entered the match with a 16-2 record and the beginning of the match was close, with Laguna leading 3-2 and one tight doubles match still in play. Freshmen Rhami Zeini and John-Henry Schulz took a 6-4 victory at the #2 doubles position to put Laguna ahead 4-2 after the first round of play. From that point on, it was nearly all Laguna in the win column for the rest of the match.
Junior Alex Furukawa remains undefeated in playoff play, recording 6-1, 6-1, and 6-4 victories on the day and juniors Conor Scheinberg and Jason Barnick continued their unbeaten streak in the playoffs at #1 doubles. In fact, Laguna Blanca doubles swept Cabrillo in 9 sets-of-play, with Zeini and Schulz taking care of business at #2 doubles and Kelvin Chen and Kevin Khodabandehlou also winning all three sets.
Kai Nakamura and Victor Liu both defeated the Cabrillo #1 player Cedric Kwon, but fell two the #2-#3 players who were both playing in the their last high school match.
Laguna Blanca @ Downey (7-11)
Playing against a school with 4,200 students to make a team from was always going to be a challenge for the small private school, but Laguna Blanca held its own in many of the matchups.
Kai Nakamura won 2-of-3 sets and Alex Furukawa and Victor Liu each added wins against the Downey #3 position.
In doubles, Conor Scheinberg and Jason Barnick got off to an excellent start, defeating the Downey #1 doubles team in the first round (6-2) and eventually finishing 2-and-1 on the day. Kelvin Chen and Kevin Khodabandehlou added an impressive 6-4 victory over the #2’s in the final round of play (6-4); Chen and Khodabandehlou were 4-0 as a doubles pairing in the playoffs.
The Bottom Line
While this is the end of the season for Laguna, it’s only “part 1” for this team. The 12 players who traveled to the Downey match will all be back next season, looking to improve upon this quarterfinal appearance.
I’m very proud of the way my guys battled today, even as we recognized we where playing the last round of our season. We took the final round 4-2 against a Downey team that really didn’t have any weak points. We’re already looking ahead to next season and I know a lot of the guys are planning to work hard to in the off-season to be ready.