Owls’ Run Comes to an end in CIF Semifinals

Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis finally met their match today, dropping a 7-11 decision at West Covina High School. The match decided which team would advance to the CIF Division Finals to play Geffen Academy, a 10-8 winner over Westminster High School.

How it Happened

The day was characterized by blustery conditions, with wind gusts reaching 30 miles-per-hour, but the tennis went on with intensity.

In the first round, Laguna banked dominant performances from Kai Suzuki and Cody Busch-Weiss at #1 doubles and Ben Rodgers and Davis Ohanian at the #2 spot. Junior Aden Meisel added a nice 6-2 set-win at the #3 singles position.

On the other side, West Covina relied upon strength at the #1 and #2 singles positions, including Adam Lee who as recently as a few months ago was ranked #210 in the country in his class. West Covina leveled the match at 3-3 with a 6-2 win at #3 doubles, the first time this playoffs that Laguna had lost a set against a #3 team.

Round two went sharply against the visiting Owls, with West Covina rapidly sweeping the singles and giving Rodgers and Ohanian their first loss of the playoffs. Suzuki and Busch-Weiss took care of business at the top spot, while Mason Berg and Jake Gidney lost a tight 4-6 set against the top team from West Covina.

With the match now slipping away (4-8) after two rounds, Laguna battled on. Senior Owen Pryor registered a 6-0 win to end his playing career, while senior team captions Ben Rodgers and Kai Suzuki each winning in similar fashion with their doubles partners. The Owls were stopped at 7 wins though, as West Covina picked up the other three sets and book their berth in the title match on Friday.

Coach’s Comments

West Covina is the first team we’ve played in the playoffs that didn’t really have any weak points in their lineup. We have been winning 7-8 sets in doubles, thanks to our depth, but we only got 5 today. They also had a very strong singles lineup, so there were very few easy points to put on the scoreboard.

I would have loved to see this very deserving group of guys get a chance to play in that title match on Friday, but I can’t be disappointed by the way they competed. We had a great post-season, and both in the 4 wins and this loss, we can be proud of our performance and the way we carried ourselves.

Owls Fly into CIF Quarterfinals

Laguna Blanca took an 11-7 victory at Schurr High School in Montebello on Friday afternoon. The win means a return to the CIF Quarterfinals for the third consecutive full season (2020 and 2021 were incomplete due to COVID).

The Owls relied on eight set-wins in doubles, where both Kai Suzuki/Cody Busch-Weiss and Ben Rodgers/Davis Ohanian remain undefeated in post-season play.

Senior George Nicks got the call to the starting lineup for the second time this playoffs, pairing with sophomore Mason Berg for two wins on the day.

In singles, Laguna faced a strong Schurr lineup, but managed to sweep the number three singles player. Owen Pryor, Kent Dunn, and Aden Meisel all played fiercely, getting stronger throughout the match.

Coach’s Comments

This match was a total dog-fight in the best possible sense. The singles matches were full of long, high-intensity points. Owen had one point in the first game that went on for several minutes. In a pure battle of wills, he wasn’t about to be the first to flinch, and eventually forced the error from his opponent.

In doubles, we keep getting more dialed as partnerships continue to grow and I loved our aggressiveness at the net in this match.

What’s next for the Owls?

Laguna Blanca will play again on Monday, 3pm at home against the winner of La Salle and Summit high schools.

Laguna Cruises to 15-3 Win in CIF First Round

The Owls took a comfortable victory over visiting Chaffey High School today, dropping just three sets. The win followed a 14-4 result in the Wild Card round against El Monte, bringing the season record to 12-2.

How it Happened

Laguna’s doubles lineup was led by senior Kai Suzuki and junior Cody Busch-Weiss, who took a 7-5 tie-break win over the Chaffey #1’s in the first round before cruising to a pair of 6-1 victories in the remaining rounds.

Senior/freshman combo Ben Rodgers and Davis Ohanian continued their strong play, beating the top two teams from Chaffey 6-2, 6-0, before senior George Nicks took over for Ohanian in the third round for a 6-1 win. Sophomores Mason Berg and Jake Gidney went 2-1 on the day.

Owen Pryor, a senior standout for the Owls, finished 2-0 on the day from the top slot in the lineup, while junior Kent Dunn was 2-1, including a win over the Chaffey #1. Junior Aden Meisel slotted back into the singles lineup for the first time in a few weeks and collected a 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 sweep on the day.

Coach’s Comments

After our trip out to East LA yesterday, we got to play at home today, which was a welcome relief. Chaffey had to make a similar drive and that’s never easy, but it was another fun match all-around. We’re obviously thrilled to be coming out with a win, but I’m also pleased with the quality of our play and the good-natured competition we’ve experienced so far this playoffs. It’s fun to play teams we wouldn’t normally come into contact with and to see how we compare to schools from other parts of Southern California.

In singles, I was particularly pleased to see Aden playing so well after his recent foray into the doubles lineup. Moving Kai into the doubles lineup allows us to take advantage of his skills at the net, and it’s good to see that Aden is ready to step up for us if needed in the singles lineup again.

In doubles, I thought Ben and Davis looked ferocious today. They served well and smothered the net, poaching aggressively and really taking the match by the reins. They’re a doubles pairing that are capable of beating anything our next few opponents send our way.

What’s Next for the Owls?

Laguna will play away on Friday against the winner of the match between Whittier and Schurr high schools, which means another long day of travel, but hopefully one that will be rewarded with a berth in the CIF Quarterfinals.

Owls Open CIF Playoffs as #1 Seed, Take 14-4 Win

The Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis team took a 14-4 road win over El Monte High School on Tuesday afternoon to begin the CIF Division Playoffs.

The Owls took 8-of-9 sets in doubles, including sweeps from Ben Rodgers/Davis Ohanian and Aden Meisel/Cody Busch-Weiss. George Nicks and Mason Berg added 2 sets, with their lone loss a tight 4-6 set against the El Monte #1’s.

In singles, senior Owen Pryor swept his sets for the owls, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. Junior Kent Dunn added 2 wins, while senior captain Kai Suzuki was 1-1 on the day before being substituted out.

After moving up to the #2-ranked team in CIF Division 5 in the final two weeks of the season, Laguna now find themselves at the top of the draw in the #1 position after #1 Roosevelt High School failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Coach’s Comments:

It was a long drive out to East LA, but the guys came ready to play today. We thoroughly enjoyed this first match in what we’re hoping will be a long playoff run. Our opponents were solid players and a lot of fun to play, so I think it’s a great match to have under our belts.

What’s Next for the Owls?

Laguna will play again at home on Wednesday, May 4th at 3pm. The visiting team is Chaffey High School from the Ontario area, who defeated Rim of the World High School 76-70 on games after tying 9-9 in sets.

Laguna Blanca Finishes Regular Season 10-2, #3 in CIF D5

The Owls came up against some strong competition in league play in the second half of the season, but have managed to secure 3rd place in the Tai-Valley League. With that, Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis has also clinched a spot in the CIF Playoffs, where they are currently seeded third in Division 5.

Next up for the Owls will be Tri-Valley League Individuals at 1pm on Tuesday at the Cate School in Carpinteria. The following week will see the beginning of CIF Playoffs, with draws available on Monday, May 2nd.

Laguna Blanca v Thacher, 5-13 loss

The Owls faced a 3-1 Thacher team that had been building momentum, just two days after the end of spring break. While the match was initially close, tied 3-3 after the first round, the Toads picked up steam as play continued, while the Owls faded.

Laguna Blanca @ Bishop Diego, 14-4 win

The win was spear-headed by doubles play, where seniors Owen Pryor and George Nicks took 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 wins and junior/sophomore duo Cody Busch-Weiss and Jake Gidney also swept.

Senior captain Ben Rodgers went 2-0 on the day with his usual partner, freshman Davis Ohanian, before being substituted out for the third round. Freshman Lucas Ayala played with Ohanian in the third round, losing a tight tie-break set. The pair saved four set points before succumbing 6-8.

In singles, Bishop exchange student Gio Basocco of Italy won his three sets, while Laguna took the remaining six sets. Juniors Aden Meisel and Kent Dunn and sophomore Mason Berg all went 2-1 on the day for Laguna Blanca in the singles lineup.

Coach’s Comments: “We came with a lot of energy today, which was great to see after our first loss of the season on Tuesday. Thacher caught us on day two after a two-week spring break and although we didn’t play poorly, we lacked some of the spark that had carried us through a number of close matches in the first half of the season. This match against Bishop Diego was a good one to get the ship pointed in the right direction again as we head into a three-match week next week.”

Laguna Blanca @ Cabrillo/Lompoc, 18-0 win

Laguna dominated the early play, taking a 5-0 lead before play was stopped due to rain. Cabrillo agreed to forfeit the remaining matches.

Laguna Blanca @ St. Bonaventure, 15-3 win

The Owls took a dominant 15-3 win over short-handed St. Bonaventure. The doubles lineup registered a clean sweep, dropping just eight games in total.

Laguna Blanca v Cate School, 1-17 loss

Laguna looked competitive in a number of sets, but had trouble maintaining the level of the very strong D3 Cate team in the second half of sets. Ben Rodgers and Davis Ohanian took the lone win in doubles, and also battled to two tie-break losses in their other sets, proving they are amongst the best doubles teams in the Tri-Valley League.

Laguna Blanca @ Foothill Tech, 12-6 win

Laguna took 8-of-9 sets in doubles, dominating the net and showing strength in depth. Senior Ben Rodgers and freshman Davis Ohanian continued their strong play at the #1 position, while Aden Meisel dropped from the singles lineup to pair with fellow junior Cody Busch-Weiss. The new pairing shot out the gates with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 showing on the day. Sophomores Jake Gidney and Mason Berg also paired together for the first time, taking two set-wins at the #3 doubles position.

In singles, all three Laguna players were able to get past the Foothill #3, with senior Owen Pryor taking a huge win over Foothill’s nationally-ranked #1 singles player Shaurya Shyam to finish 2-1 on the day.

Senior Kai Suzuki started slow but was dominant in the third round to take his win, while junior Kent Dunn played his best tennis of the season to beat the #3 in the first round and play very competitive sets in the remaining two.

Coach’s Comments: “This match was the biggest win of the season for us. Foothill was missing a key singles player, but even with him in the lineup we would have been competitive, because the guys were playing so well. We really rose to the occasion as a team today. It’s a great sign as we head into the playoffs.”

Laguna Blanca @ Dunn School, 17-1 win

The Owls finished regular season play with a new lineup, featuring sweeps from Davis Ohanian, Cody Busch-Weiss, and Mason Berg in singles. In doubles play, seniors Ben Rodgers and Owen Pryor held down the #1 spot, with juniors Aden Meisel and Kent Dunn dominating at #2, and senior/freshman combo Kai Suzuki and Lucas Ayala picking up two wins and a close 6-8 tie-break loss at #3.

Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis Heads to Spring Break Undefeated!

The Owls have been impressive in the opening matches of the season, going 4-0 against non-league opponents and opening the Tri-Valley League season with a win over Villanova Prep yesterday. At 5-0 overall, and with quality wins over Santa Barbara High, Malibu High, Carpinteria High, Laguna is making a strong case for a high ranking in CIF D5.

Laguna Blanca @ Villanova Prep: 11-7 Win

In the first Tri-Valley League match of the season, the Owls were led by a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 showing from Ben Rodgers and Davis Ohanian at number one doubles. Laguna doubles teams of Cody Busch-Weiss/Jake Gidney and George Nicks/Mason Berg added two set-wins each to total seven sets in doubles play.

Laguna senior Owen Pryor continues to shine in his new singles role, going 2-1 on the day. Juniors Aden Meisel and Kent Dunn each added a set, bringing the singles total to four.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

Owen was an absolute animal today. He chased down every ball relentlessly, showing his athleticism and determination. He nearly went 3-0, only losing a 7-4 tie-breaker against the top player from Villanova and those games were crucial had we ended up in a 9-9 match situation. We definitely couldn’t have won today without him today.

I also want to give a lot of credit to another senior, George Nicks, who stepped into the doubles lineup at the last minute when we had a late scratch. George partnered with Mason for the first time and they picked up two wins that we absolutely had to have; it’s good to know everyone is ready.

In general, that’s the sense I get from this team. Everyone is ready to play whatever role I need from them on any particular day and that’s a dream-situation for a coach!

What’s Next for the Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis?

Laguna will now have a two-week spring break, followed by an almost immediate return to Tri-Valley League competition at home against Thacher on April 5th.

Cate Defeats Laguna, Thacher 14-4 in Tri-Valley League Play

Cate has moved to 7-1 on the season (6-1 in league play) after dominant second-round performances against Laguna Blanca and Thacher.

How it Happened:

Cate took a 14-4 win in Hope Ranch last Thursday on strength-in-depth. Senior Aminah Hill was unable to repeat her upset victory over Laguna sophomore Mina Yazadhiev, but all three Cate singles players made quick work of the Laguna #2 and #3 positions.

In doubles, Laguna took 8 sets out of 9, including an impressive sweep from #3’s Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani (6-3, 6-3, 6-3). Emily May and Ella Change also swept on the day.

Earlier today, Cate recorded another 14-4 win, this time against the Toads from Thacher School playing on the Cate Mesa.

The win was spearheaded by a 2-0 day from Aminah Hill and Frances Davis in singles, while sophomore Alyna Takahashi moved into the doubles lineup to go 2-0 on the day.

In the second round, she partnered with junior Ellie Tunnell to defeat the Thacher #1 team, which was actually their top two singles players stacked into doubles. The successful partnership may prove useful tomorrow against visiting San Marcos High, a team that typically fields a strong singles lineup.

Cate has often had its most competitive and exciting match of the season against the large Santa Barbara public school. Despite San Marcos having nearly 10-times the student body, Cate had consistently held its own and sometimes defeated the top Santa Barbara County team, including as recently as 2019.

In that year, Cate went on to finish the season with a sweep of all three major Santa Barbara public schools en-route to a CIF D1 appearance. This year, Cate will be competing in CIF Division 3, with a strong performance in tomorrow’s match suggesting the likelihood of a deep playoff run in a few weeks time.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

I have been delighted to see different players stepping up in each match. For example, Alyna and Ellie taking down that stacked Thacher doubles team. We also brought up four JV players today and they all came through with wins.

Kate Ragatz was particularly impressive today, taking down the Thacher #3 in a tight 7-5 set in what was her very first varsity match. That was the last match on-court and it would be easy for a freshman to let nerves play the deciding factor, but she took her opportunity to play varsity and ran with it!

Cate Girls’ Split First Week of League Matches

Cate Girls’ Tennis opened the Tri-Valley League season with a 5-13 loss against last year’s league champions (Foothill Tech), but rallied gamely for a 15-3 win over previously undefeated Laguna Blanca two days later.

Tuesday, September 21: Foothill Tech d. Cate 13-5

In the first round of play, Cate managed to win just one set as the girls returned to matchplay for the first time in four weeks. Playing at #3 doubles, senior Julianna Forry and junior Nikita Nautiyal cruised to a 6-2 win, while #1 doubles lost a 7-9 tie-breaker and #2 doubles lost a tight 5-7 set.

It was a struggle in singles as well for the Rams, as Foothill Tech fielded three tournament-level players and more recent match-play. In fact, it was not until the final singles match on-court that Cate drew blood in singles, with new sophomore Alyna Takahashi taking her first win of the season against the Foothill #2, Anna English.

The later rounds proved better for Cate doubles as well, with seniors Emily May and Ashi Kamra rallying for 6-2, 6-4 wins and sisters Ella and Colette Chang also picking up a win over the Foothill Tech #3 team.

Thursday, September 23: Cate d. Laguna Blanca 15-3

In a complete reversal to Tuesday’s match, Cate came out firing against a 5-0 Laguna Blanca team, sweeping the first six sets-of-play.

In the first round, senior Aminah Hill struck a devastating blow to Laguna’s chances, defeating their ace #1 singles player Mina Yazadhiev 6-3. Hill finished 3-0 on the day, while junior Ellie Tunnell and sophomore Alyna Takahashi collected two wins each in singles play.

In doubles action, Cate’s #1 pairing Ashi Kamra/Colette Chang won three convincing sets (6-1, 6-3, 6-0), while Emily May/Ella Chang also swept (7-6, 6-3, 6-0). Julianna Forry went 1-1 with partner Nikita Nautiyal in the first two rounds, before partnering with Sophie Alijani to take an impressive 6-1 victory over the Laguna #1 team in the final round-of-play.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments:

While we had practiced well after outings week, it was clear on Tuesday that we lacked some match-readiness. I think had we managed to win those tight doubles sets in the first round to go 3-3 instead of 1-5, the match might have ended differently.

That being said, we improved markedly in our match on Thursday against Laguna Blanca and I think we’re on-track to give Foothill Tech a run for their money in our next meeting. Throughout both matches, I saw lots of good teamwork and support, and coupling that with the progression of our match-play as we get deeper into the season will yield dividends.

Also, this year’s team has shown some excellent marketing skills! Drawing attention to our home match against Laguna by wearing blazers to school was a genius move, so it’s clear we’ve got some creative intelligence to work with should we need it later in the season.

What’s next for Cate Tennis?

Cate will travel away to Thacher on Thursday, September 30th for the classic Santa Barbara Area boarding school rivalry!

Laguna Doubles Teams Finish 3rd and 4th in TVL League Individuals

After coming in with the #1 and #4 seeds in the doubles draw of the Tri-Valley League Individuals tournament, the Owls managed to snag third and fourth this week to end the 2021 season.

TVL Individuals, Early Rounds

Laguna Blanca School fielded the 11-1 senior doubles team of Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond as the #1 seed in the tournament. As such, they were the last doubles team to take the courts on what was an unusually mild May day in Ojai, where Villanova played host.

Before Purkait and Richmond got to start their tournament, freshman/junior combo Keanu Nakamura/Ben Rodgers opened play as the #4 seed (5-1 in league play). Their seeding resulted in a very tough first-round match-up against Cate #3 singles player Will Vanica and freshman standout doubles player Ethan Bloom.

The fourth-seeded Owls team came through with a decisive 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Cate team, leading the entire match. This set up a semifinal clash with the only undefeated team in the draw, Foothill Tech’s #1 doubles team. Meanwhile, Laguna Blanca’s singles entrants Kai Suzuki and Aden Meisel fought gamely in the play-in round, but were unable to defeat their opponents in 8-game pro-sets.

Meisel got off to a rough start, dropping three games quickly, before changing strategies and taking four of the next nine games to lose 4-8. Suzuki played very well in the early-going, taking a 6-3 lead over Foothill Tech’s James Sokoloski, but the Laguna junior struggled to close the match out and faded to a 6-8 loss.

TVL Individuals, Later Rounds

Purkait and Richmond won their quarterfinal match against the Villanova #1 doubles team 6-4, 6-4, but looked far from their dominant regular-season best. This manifested itself again in their semifinal match against #3-seeded Cate seniors Lucian Prinz and Michael Armstrong, who they had defeated early in the season.

After taking a 5-2 lead in the first set, the Owls senior duo struggled with execution, seeing the Cate team recover for a 7-5 win and go up 5-2 in the second. Purkait and Richmond rallied to 4-5, but could not force the third set from Prinz and Armstrong, who closed the match out with a hold-of-serve.

Nakamura and Rodgers faced a stiff challenge from the top Foothill Tech team, who would go on to become this year’s league champions with a win over Prinz/Armstrong. The team of Pascal Hayward and Eesh Manwani played a very loud and aggressive style, and though the Laguna boys pushed Hayward and Manwani with many excellent points, they eventually fell 6-4, 6-3.

TVL Individuals, Laguna v. Laguna

The proceedings of Day One of the Tri-Valley League Individuals Tournament led to a matchup between the two Laguna teams for 3rd place in league and the final All-League First-Team designation.

Played at Furukawa Tennis Gardens on the Laguna Blanca campus, 3rd place match saw a resurgence from Nic Richmond and Ryan Purkait, who reversed a loss from earlier in the week to their younger teammates in practice. The seniors regained their best tennis to defeat Rodgers and Nakamura by a final score of 6-4, 6-1.

The result is Richmond and Purkait picking up All-League First-Team honors for the first time as they move on to college, while Rodgers and Nakamura get their first All-League Second-Team honors. Certainly the younger duo will be in the mix for future Tri-Valley League honors.

Match Week 2: Cate Girls Go 2-0, Laguna Boys split while playing short-handed

It was a busy week for Coach Thorpe, with four matches in five days that also included a match between Cate and Laguna Blanca, but there will be little respite as the same is scheduled for the following week. On to the recaps!

Monday, April 19: Cate d. Providence 14-4

Cate Girls’ Tennis played Providence High School for the first time and came out with a convincing victory. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, April 21: Foothill Tech d. Laguna Blanca 12-6

The Owls took their first defeat of the season while playing short-handed. Freshman #1 Keanu Nakamura lost a tight 4-6 set in the first round before subbing out and Laguna struggled for wins in singles. Senior Andreas Jackson picked up the lone win with a 6-2 victory against the Dragons #3 player.

In doubles, the Owls faired much better, taking 5-of-9 sets despite going winless against Foothill’s #1 team.

Senior combo Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond took 6-1, 6-0 victories and junior/sophomore combo Ben Rodgers and Aden Meisel added two wins. In the first round, Rodgers and Meisel battled to an 11-9 tie-break win against the Foothill #2 before cruising to a 6-0 win in the third round. George Nicks and Cody Busch-Weiss added a 6-4 set against the #3’s to the Laguna win-column.

Thursday, April 22: Cate d. Laguna Blanca 12-6

Despite winning just one game in three sets against Laguna’s freshman #1 Mina Yazadzhiev, Cate managed to put another match in the win column.

Buoyed by sweeps at #1 and #2 doubles, Cate finished the match with seven wins in doubles and five in singles for a 12-6 final score.

Senior Fritze Mayer and junior Emily May won their sets 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 to move to 7-0 on the season, while senior/junior combo Yuki Kobayashi and Ashi Kamra won 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. Kamra is now a perfect 9-0 on the season. Julianna Forry and Sophie Alijani added a 7-5 win in the first round.

Juniors Aminah Hill and Ellie Tunnell each finished the day 2-1, while sophomore Ella Chang rallied from losses in the first two rounds to defeat the Laguna #2 6-3 in the final round of play.

Cate moves to 3-0 with the win and will play next on Monday, April 26th against an undefeated Foothill Tech team that threatens to end a 44-match win-streak in Tri-Valley League play that stretches all the way back to 2014.

Friday, April 23: Laguna Blanca d. St. Bonaventure 14-4

The Owls tasted victory for the second time this season (2-1 overall) with a convincing victory over short-handed St. Bonny, who had to forfeit all three rounds at #2 and #3 doubles. The match was anything but boring though, as Bonny fielded a solid singles lineup and a determined #1 doubles team.

The stand-out performance of the day came from sophomore Aden Meisel, playing at the #3 singles position for the first time. After watching his teammates fall to the #1 singles player from St. Bonaventure 4-6 and 0-6, Meisel turned it around for the Owls with a 6-4 victory in the last match of the day. The Laguna sophomore finished the day undefeated with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 line.

Laguna took two-of-three in doubles, with Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond collecting a 6-1 win and frosh combo Cody Busch-Weiss and Jake Gidney also defeating the Bonny #1’s with a 6-4 score.

In singles, senior Andreas Jackson took two-of-three and looked to be building back some of his old form after a long layoff from regular competitive play, while junior Ben Rodgers took a nice 6-4 victory over the St. Bonaventure #2.

Laguna Blanca plays next on Friday, April 30th in the second Laguna/Cate rivalry matchup, where Coach Thorpe will hope to turn the tide for the Owls, who lost to his Cate girls’ team earlier in the week. Confused yet? So am I! So am I. What a crazy year this has been over at Thorpe Tennis!