Laguna Boys Drop 8-10 Cliff-Hanger at Cate School

Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis fielded its full starting lineup for the first time this season and took undefeated Cate School to the wire with an 8-10 loss.

How the match unfolded

The first round of play was a story of singles versus doubles. Cate swept the singles sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, while visiting Laguna Blanca matched the effort with 7-6, 6-1, 6-4 set-wins in doubles. The last match on court was the #1 doubles position, where former Laguna Blanca student Lucian Prinz looked to defeat his good friends Ryan Purkait and Nic Richmond, the #1 doubles team for the Owls. It was not to be though, as Purkait and Richmond won the “battle-of-the-buddies” to even the match at 3-3 after the opening round.

The second round opened with Laguna trailing by just a single game, in the event of a 9-9 tie, and it became clear that every set (and every game) would be critical. Cate struck first with a 6-0 victory from the #1 singles player Jin-Ming Wang, also a former Laguna student (and participant in a number of Thorpe Tennis after school programs). The Rams also registered a 6-0 victory from their #2 singles player against Laguna senior Andreas Jackson.

The Owls rallied, however, taking wins at #1 and #2 doubles in convincing fashion. Meanwhile, junior Kai Suzuki landed the first singles win for Laguna on the day with a 6-4 set over Cate’s #3 singles player, Will Vanica. Shortly thereafter, frosh combo Jake Gidney/Cody Busch-Weiss succumbed to the Cate #1’s, despite putting up a very respectable 3-6 set.

After two rounds of play, Laguna and Cate were locked in a 6-6 tie, with the Rams holding a narrow two-game advantage in the event of a tie. Cate struck first with Wang taking a 6-0 victory over a fading Suzuki, but Jackson lifted the Owls hopes with a 6-2 set over Vanica. In the remaining singles set, Laguna sophomore Aden Meisel battled back from 1-4 and 2-5 down to reach 4-5. The Cate #2 looked to be on the edge of collapse, but held it together to close out Meisel, leaving the score 7-8 with the three doubles sets still in action.

Over on the #2 doubles court, Ben Rodgers and Keanu Nakamura found themselves behind for the first time on the day. The pair looked solid in 6-1, 6-4 wins through the earlier rounds, but got down 0-3 against the Cate #1’s and could not pull it back.

Richmond and Purkait also found themselves ceding the first few games, but they rallied heartily and took the overall score to 8-9 winning six of the last eight games played. All attention turned to Laguna’s young #3 pairing playing against the Cate #2’s. Gidney and Busch-Weiss held their own, taking the Cate team to the limit, but in the end didn’t have enough to get the win. The Ram’s #2 duo clinched the 10-8 win with a 6-4 final set score.

Coach Thorpe’s Comments

This was an absolutely thrilling match to watch. Getting to be part of such a competitive high school match between two teams with a lot of depth was definitely the highlight of the season so far. Our guys were solid throughout.

Nic and Ryan were unbeatable at #1 doubles, Keanu overcame injury to partner with Ben and grab two key sets, and Jake and Cody showed that they can be competitive against even the toughest opponents. In singles, Andreas and Kai took big wins for us and Aden showed a lot of character the way he battled back and pushed is third opponent to the brink.

We took a big step forward as a team in this match, going toe-to-toe with a team we haven’t been able to defeat since 2013. That year, our #1 singles player was Tristan Prinz, older bro to Lucian Prinz, who was playing #1 doubles for Cate. Having coached the Prinz family since 2011, it was great to see Lucian closing out his senior season on a good level, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Ryan and Nic get the W at #1 doubles against him!

After last years “COVID season,” and having dealt with injury and illness amongst our top guys so far this season, this match has re-invigorated Owls Tennis and shown us the level we’re capable of. It has also re-ignited a healthy rivalry between Laguna and Cate boys’ tennis that looks set to continue next season, with both teams returning a number of key players.

What’s next for the Owls?

Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis will play their last match of the season on Wednesday, May 5th against visiting Villanova High School. Villanova features an undefeated #1 singles player and a second strong singles player, but the Owls have the depth to get the job done. Certainly, the very competitive match against Cate will have raised their level.

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!

Thorpe Tennis: 2018 Year-in-Review

This post is coming a little later than my typical annual review, but there was no shortage of great things to write about.

As I looked back at last year’s review, I noticed a trend. It’s actually something I think about often. Tennis, and specifically the Thorpe Tennis community, returns every effort I give, with interest.

In 2018, I worked on 258 days, including one stretch of 51 consecutive days. I loved almost every minute of it. That’s not to say there aren’t difficult moments, but every time I step on-court I am filled with a passion for what we can do together to grow as players and as people.

This last spring, Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis rewarded me with my 100th win in 9 seasons as their head coach. We graduated a class that went 52-12 in four years of regular season play and reached the CIF D4 Quarterfinals in each of their last two seasons.

The summer was filled with several blocks of group training weeks, where players got 2-4 hours in per day and made some big gains. I also did many hitting lessons this summer, with students of all ages. Of particular satisfaction was the time spent continuing to improve the tennis of some recent graduates of my high school programs (Conrad Perry, I’m looking at you!).

Also, this summer, I had the pleasure of preparing a special group of incoming freshmen girls for high school tennis. Madeleine Nicks, Ava Rice, Amara Murphy, and Lauren Neubauer all put in big time over the summer to hit the ground running at Laguna Blanca. While I don’t coach that team, I am very excited to see what that core unit can do in the coming years and love that I get to be part of it.

Speaking of girls’ high school tennis, when I think about the program that we’ve developed together at the Cate School, it always gets me fired up. This year, Cate Girls’ Tennis went 12-1 during regular season play and put in a solid effort against eventual CIF D1 Champions, Mira Costa, in the playoffs.

During this period, my girls also helped me to reach the 100-win mark across 10 seasons coaching at Cate. Cate Girls’ Tennis has been utterly dominant in Tri-Valley League play, as well as fielding some of the best players in CIF Individuals year after year.

One of the biggest revelations of the year was the progress I got to make with one of my most dedicated students, Jake Gidney. Over the last year, Jake has improved by leaps and bounds through his commitment to being a better tennis player every day. He’s now wading into tournament play and is quite comfortable playing with players several years older than him. Keep an eye on that kid 😉

Part of the reason players like Jake get to reach new levels and play against stronger competition is that Thorpe Tennis has such a great participation rate with group sessions.

I have been working to expand these groups to offer players the opportunity to 1) play more often 2) play with different opponents at different levels 3) have a ton of fun! We had some absolutely ridiculous moments in 2018, let me tell you.

All of this is to say, I feel very honored to be a coach and a role model to this wonderful group of people. I get so much positive feedback and support from my students and their families. I am filled with the joy of passing on my knowledge and just being part of the process. This motivates me daily to improve what I have to offer as a coach and to reach my full potential as a human being. This is truly a virtuous cycle!

Sincerely,

Coach Trevor

Laguna Wins First Two Playoff Matches!

Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis has made a triumphant return to the CIF Division 4 Playoffs after a one-year absence. After finishing the regular season 13-3 and earning a freelance wildcard spot in the playoffs, Laguna has now won two playoff games and enters a third tomorrow against Cabrillo/Lompoc.

Laguna Blanca v. Paso Robles (15-3)

Paso Robles came to Furukawa Tennis Garden boasting a 14-6 record and seemed like a tough draw for a wildcard round match for the #5-seeded Owls. What transpired, though, was one of Laguna’s most dominant performances of the season.

Alex Furukawa, Kai Nakamura, and Victor Liu all swept their singles opponents, giving Laguna a significant edge, and the top doubles pairing of juniors Conor Scheinberg/Jason Barnick also swept while playing down at the #3 position. Kovid Mishra and Kelvin Chen added two sets, including a 6-2 victory over the Paso #1 team.

Laguna Blanca @ Carpinteria (11-7)

This was a very familiar match-up, as these teams play each other twice each season, but anything can happen in the playoffs and Carpinteria is known for making strategic lineup adjustments. Though Laguna had beaten the Warriors (10-8, 12-6), the win was not a given.

After the first round-of-play, the two teams were knotted in a 3-3 tie, with Laguna winning 2-of-3 in singles, while Carpinteria snagged 2-of-3 in doubles. In fact, the match remained tightly contested until Laguna freshman Kai Nakamura defeated junior Jeremy Saito to end the second round-of-play, giving Laguna a 7-5 lead. Nakamura and Saito had played an hour-long set in their last meeting, with Saito prevailing 10-8 in the tie-breaker, but this time Nakamura was more aggressive and confidently ended the set at 6-4.

In the third round, Alex Furukawa recorded a 6-4 win against Saito and Scheinberg/Barnick continued their streak of wins as the Owls’ top doubles team. Nakamura and Liu added wins at #2 and #3 singles to bring the score to 11-7.

Looking Ahead

The Owls play next on Friday, May 12th in the second round of CIF Playoffs against Cabrillo/Lompoc. Cabrillo finished the regular season 15-2 and beat Oakwood of Hollywood in the first round. The match will be held at Laguna Blanca at 3pm. Please come out and support the Owls as they look to reach the CIF Quarterfinals for the first time in team history!