LA CAÑADA — In the world of high school playoff tennis, depth in doubles, particularly in the deepest waters of CIF Southern Section Division I, often tells the tale of a team's success.
On Saturday afternoon at La Cañada High, the Spartans simply had no answer in doubles against Mira Costa, falling in all nine sets en route to a season-ending 13-5 defeat against the visiting third-seeded Mustangs.
"I thought we were gonna be a little more competitive in doubles," Spartans coach Will Moravec said. "They really had strong doubles."
Spartans No. 1 singles player Ryan Morgan swept through his competition while singles teammates JP McKenzie and Reid Schreck each won a set apiece, but it was far from enough to overcome the doubles disparity.
"La Cañada has really, really good singles," said Mustangs coach Joe Ciasulli, whose team won the Bay League title and improved to 21-1. "Normally my doubles are strong, but my singles are very good. It's just that La Cañada is really good."
Matters weren't helped for La Cañada (11-4), the Rio Hondo League runner-up, before the match started as it was without No. 1 doubles squad Ian and Nick Lee as the tandem was absent due to a family engagement. Still, Moravec said that likely didn't play a factor.
One set that might have was a 7-6 (7-4) loss in the first round by Gabriel and Gerald Llanes, who had the most success for the Spartans doubles teams with 11 games won.
"That 7-6 loss, who knows? We win that, we're pumped and they're down and it might lift us up with some more doubles wins, but it didn't happen," Moravec said. "They never let us breathe in doubles."
Morgan, the Rio Hondo League champion, swept, 6-1, 6-0, 7-6. At No. 2, McKenzie beat the Mustangs' No. 2, 6-2, and Reid Shreck collected a 6-1 win against the Mustangs' No. 2.
The match got extremely chippy during and after Morgan's 7-6 win over Matthew Poh as Mira Costa parents began complaining about what Morgan was saying during the set. Complaints and a little extra Mira Costa cheering when Morgan was playing his final set carried through even though by that point the Mustangs had taken a 10-4 lead and clinched the match.
Morgan and the Lees will continue their seasons in the upcoming CIF Individual Tournament.
As for the Spartans team as a whole, Moravec will continue to preach depth and skill in doubles leading into next season.
"We need those guys to become true doubles players and not just singles players playing doubles," he said.
Nonetheless, it proved to be a successful season as the Spartans gave longtime Rio Hondo League juggernaut San Marino a run with two close losses and defeated Beverly Hills in the first round.
"It was a good year," Moravec said. "We stood up to our expectations.
"We played to our potential."