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.