Catching Up with the Owls at Playoff Time

ORG_DSC00093It’s been over a month since the last update on Laguna Blanca’s season. In the meantime, the Owls went 9-1 to finish the regular season 14-2, garnering the #5-seed for CIF D4. It is their 5th consecutive season ranking amongst the top-10 teams in the division.

CIF Wildcard Round: Laguna Blanca v. Lompoc High, 17-1 Win

As part of being a freelance team, despite being seeded within the playoff tournament draw, Laguna Blanca needed to play in the Tuesday Wildcard Round. The match, played at home against Lompoc High School, was a show of force for the Owls, who dropped just one set and spread the wins amongst 13 players.

Alex Furukawa (pictured above), who has played #1 singles since early in the season, led the team with 6-0, 6-1 victories before being substituted out. Victor Liu also won two rounds before subbing out, while sophomore Kai Nakamura played all three rounds for easy victories, dropping just three games along the way.

In doubles, the senior combo of Conor Scheinberg/Jason Barnick and senior/freshman pairing of Kelvin Chen/Ryan Purkait defeated Lompoc’s #1 team, with Chen and Purkait staying in all three rounds to complete a sweep on the day.

Sophomore Kevin Khodabandehlou and freshman Nic Richmond combined for the first time this season to win two-of-three, with a 6-4, 6-0, 2-6 line on the day. Sophomore John-Henry Schulz played his best doubles of the season to win both of his sets on the day, partnering with Barnick in the second round and junior Kovid Mishra in the final round-of-play.

Coaches’ Notes

This win marks 100 since I took over as head coach of the Laguna Blanca tennis team in 2010. In looking back at the Laguna Blanca Team History page, I learned that the six seniors on this team have achieved a remarkable 52-12 record in regular-season play, and now sit at 5-2 in the playoff competition.

What’s ahead for the Owls in this year’s CIF Playoffs

Laguna will travel to Quartz Hill in Lancaster for the CIF First Round, with the match beginning at 3pm on Wednesday, May 9th. The forecast calls for a high of 95 degrees, but the Owls appear ready to take on any challenge.

A win tomorrow will likely result in a rematch with one of Laguna’s top rivals over the years in Rio Mesa High School, a match that would be played at home in Hope Ranch.

Laguna Blanca Tennis Now 10-3, Ranked #7 in CIF

With just three matches left, Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis continues to roll towards a CIF Playoff appearance. The team will need to win its final three matches to clinch a playoff spot. Here’s a quick recap of the last two weeks of play:

Laguna Blanca @ Foothill Tech (9-9, 72-68)

In what has been the closest match of the season, the Owls narrowly defeated a strong Foothill Tech team. The teams were evenly matched in the singles positions, with Alex Furukawa taking two wins and Victor Liu and Kai Nakamura pitched in wins over Foothill #3 player Ethan Wang.

Doubles was a lopsided affair, with the Foothill #1’s easily taking their three sets, while Laguna gave just a handful of games up against in the other six sets. In the end, the margin of victory on the doubles side of the match set Laguna up to win by four games.

Laguna Blanca v. Cate School (3-15)

The Cate School remains undefeated on the season, having already beaten Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara High Schools on the strength of the Ha brothers (Kevin, Ethan) in singles and a stellar #1 doubles pairing. This is the big year for Cate, as three of these four players will graduate or be ineligible for the 2018 season.

Although the score appears lopsided, the Owls took great satisfaction from the match, coming away with some high-quality experience and the knowledge that four of the lost sets were very evenly contested (6-7, 6-7, 5-7, 5-7). In particular, Laguna’s #1 doubles duo Conor Scheinberg and Jason Barnick impressed with their gutsy performances on the day, winning two sets and losing to Cate’s #1’s in a tie-break set.

Laguna Blanca v. Carpinteria (12-6)

In the first match of the season against Carpinteria, Laguna barely squeaked by with a 10-8 victory after struggling in doubles play. This time, with partnerships more settled, Laguna was able to take and hold a steady lead throughout the match.

Alex Furukawa was dominant at #1 singles, dropping just a couple games. Victor Liu also beat the Carpinteria #2 by a much greater margin than he had in the first match. Kai Nakamura nearly ended the match with a win over Jeremy Saito (Carp’s #1) after battling for nearly an hour to a 7-9 tie-break loss.

Laguna Blanca @ Thacher (4-14)

In what was a somewhat forgettable performance, Laguna failed to pull in a single set in doubles play. Singles play was more evenly matched, with Furukawa taking two wins and Liu and Nakamura each winning once and playing close sets against the Thacher #2. Thacher held a 7-1 record going into the match while playing a division above Laguna and their strength in depth was just too much for the Owls.

Laguna Blanca @ Lompoc (16-2)

The owls dominated every position in the lineup except at #2 doubles. Though the windy conditions played to the advantage of the home-team, the Owls brought too much experience to the match to be challenged. This win also marks the 10th victory of the season, making it five consecutive season the Owls have achieved double-digit wins. For more about past performances, check out the Laguna Blanca Team History page.

Looking Ahead

Laguna Varsity Boys’ Tennis faces three more opponents in the regular season, including two that have already been beaten by the Owls earlier in the year. Assuming a sweep of these matches, Laguna would finish the season 13-3, clinching a wildcard playoff berth with a more than 80% win-percentage. In addition, Laguna Blanca remains a top-10 ranked team in CIF D4, coming in at #7 in the most recent poll.

CIF April 24 Rankings