TUSTIN — The high school boys' tennis match was already pushed back two hours, to avoid the brutal heat. On Wednesday afternoon, Foothill Coach Dennis Claus pushed it back one more hour, to 6 p.m.
The delay was unusual for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 first-round match, which finished under the lights just before 9 p.m. Yet, it appeared to be worth it. The thermometer still read 97 degrees at Hillview High when the match began.
Still, some of the Sage players were less than enthusiastic about the late start time. It gave them less time Wednesday night to study for Advanced Placement testing at the school on Thursday.
The Lightning players will now be able to give their academics their full attention. Sage Hill battled gamely but fell to Foothill, 11-7, ending the Lightning's season.
Coach A.G. Longoria said it was the first time in program history his team lost in the first round of CIF. But in many ways the season was a success for Sage Hill (9-8). Coming off a 2-23 campaign a year ago, the young Lightning, who started three freshmen, finished second in the Academy League.
The Lightning put a scare into Foothill, which finished No. 7 in the final Division 2 coaches' poll. But Foothill (17-4), the Century League champion, won too many of the close sets on Wednesday. It certainly happened in the first round, when Foothill's Nicky Boyajian and Alex Kao rallied for a 7-6 (7-5) lead over Gordon Strelow and Han Chin at No. 3 doubles. The key set gave the Knights a 4-2 lead after the first round.
"Our goal was to be 3-3 in the first round, or even 4-2," Longoria said. "We wanted to beat their No. 3 doubles all three times."
There was again a close set in the second round that finished after all of the others. Again, Foothill won. Sage freshman No. 1 singles player Adam Langevin rallied from a 3-0 deficit but eventually fell to Justin Nevins, 7-5. The result of that set gave Foothill a commanding 8-4 advantage.
Nevins also finished off the match, beating Sage senior David Kim in a tiebreaker for the Knights' 11th set. Nevins and Yale-bound senior Stefan Doehler each swept in singles for the hosts, who move on to play the Claremont vs. Valencia of Valencia winner in a Division 2 second-round match on Friday.
Sage Hill senior Eric Magliarditi and sophomore Kenan Torlic swept, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 1 doubles. Langevin, fellow freshman Omead Moini and Kim each won once in singles, while Shayan Emtiaz and substitute Grant Janavs won a doubles set in the final round.
Longoria said the future is bright for his program. He also gave credit to his assistant coach, Diane Rettew, who provided constant encouragement to the team on Wednesday.
"We've got three or four really good boys coming in, and these guys will be a year more experienced," Longoria said. "It will be our time [next year]. And [league opponents] Crean [Lutheran], Whitney and St. Margaret's all have like six seniors that are graduating."
Still, it was an emotional finish for Magliarditi, a four-year varsity starter. He was the last remaining player from the 2011 Sage Hill team that captured the CIF Division 3 title.
"It's kind of sad that it's finally at its end," Magliarditi said. "Last year was definitely tough, but this year we got a lot of good, new talent like Adam and Omead. We worked really hard, a lot harder than last year, and I think it really paid off."