IRVINE — Corona del Mar High tennis senior Carson Williams does not know the name of the mystery man who he hit with last weekend in Ojai.
Williams said the man was in the men's open division of the 114th annual Ojai Tennis Tournament, and he needed a warmup partner. He hit with the man for about 90 minutes.
"I couldn't find him on the draw," Williams said. "He said his first name is Dane, but that must have been short for something. He was really good. He needed a warmup [partner] for his match, and it was great. I played the best tennis of my life. It sparked my singles game, or just my game in general."
The versatile team captain has been playing singles this week. He played well on a hot day Thursday at Beckman High, and the team seemingly needed every point.
It wasn't as easy as it has been in prior years, but Williams helped ensure that CdM would again finish second in the Pacific Coast League.
Bjorn Hoffmann, Ryan Andrews and Williams all swept in singles as CdM beat Beckman, 11-7, to clinch second place in league for the eighth straight year.
CdM (14-4, 7-2 in league), ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, still has to conclude league play at Northwood on Monday. But neither the No. 6-ranked Timberwolves (5-4 in league) nor the No. 5-ranked Patriots (4-5) can surpass the Sea Kings now.
Thursday's match certainly was close, just like the Sea Kings' 10-8 win over Beckman at home earlier in league. Beckman Coach Nick Friendt, who said his program has never beaten CdM, at least put a scare into the Sea Kings this year.
But Hoffmann, Andrews and Williams were just too tough in some close sets. Besides Andrews' 6-0 win in the third round, each of the other eight sets were 6-3 or closer.
"We went clutch when it mattered," said Williams, whose normal doubles partner, fellow senior captain Josh Kliger, is out for the year due to a left knee injury. "It was kind of the exact opposite for doubles ... the majority of the matches were really close. It definitely feels really good to get these clutch wins under our belt. The last three seasons, usually we'd breeze through all of these teams, but now they're pretty close to us."
CdM's No. 2 doubles team of senior Samee Aboubakare and junior Tyler Gaede won in the first round over Aaron Yu and Alex Sun, 6-2. And the No. 1 team of Dan LaBruna and Ari Coskinas earned an important 6-2 win over Matt Tran and Mark Nguyen in the third round.
The Sea Kings led the Patriots, 4-2, after the first round and 7-5 after the second round. They were ahead, 9-7, when Williams won his final set against Ryan Teng to clinch the match. Moments later, Hoffmann earned a 7-6 (7-5) victory over Josh Yoo for the 11th set win of the match.
Corona del Mar Coach Jamie Gresh was proud of the way his team responded after it was blown out by league champion University, 17-1, at CdM on Tuesday.
"It's been hot out, it's been windy, but we kind of focused on what was to come," Gresh said. "That was Beckman today. We knew that we were going to have the same 10-8-type of match. I think a big part of it is just letting the guys know that it's going to be close, expect it to be close and then handle the pressure and play your best tennis under pressure. I think the guys did a good job of that today. They realized the implications and what's riding on this match, and I thought they rose to the occasion really well.
"I felt Carson was ready to play singles, and I think that was the key for us, him winning three [sets]. Last time we played him with Jonny [Rhone] and they won three, but we didn't get any production out of third doubles or third singles last time. It made doubles a tiny bit weaker, but I think it overall paid off."
Luis Castillo and Charlie Tong swept at No. 1 doubles for Beckman, which concludes league play against Woodbridge on Monday.
After CdM concludes league play at Northwood on Monday, the team will prepare for the Pacific Coast League individuals tournament Wednesday and Thursday at University High.
Gresh said that Hoffmann and Andrews will play in singles, and Williams will decide if he wants to play singles or doubles.
The Division 1 playoffs begin May 14. CdM reached the final in 2013 and 2012.