SPRING AUDITION : Moorpark's Darin Pleasant Finds a Stage to Display His Talents for Division I Scouts

Times Staff Writer

There will be no Pleasant surprise for those familiar with the Moorpark College men's tennis team. Not this weekend, anyway. Not even at an event as prestigious as the Ojai Valley Tennis tournament.

Darin Pleasant, the Raiders' top player, may have carried a rather unimpressive double-digit ranking at midseason, but let buyers of such balderdash beware: Their Pleasant experience might not be an enjoyable one.

Tennis isn't a game played by the numbers.

"The cream rises to the top," said Bud Davis, Moorpark's coach. "People tend to look right by anyone (ranked) below 20, but they're going to see a couple of rounds and know about Darin, if they don't know about him already."

Players from the Western State Conference certainly don't need an introduction. Pleasant is expected to be selected the conference player of the year in a vote of coaches next week.

Everyone else may wonder exactly who he is when he takes the court, however.

Moorpark's ace is playing under the alias of Darin Pigasant, thanks to a typographical error in the tournament program.

There have been mixups before. When the preseason junior college rankings came out, a "Don" Pleasant was ranked 43rd. That mistake should be considered a double fault--the first name being one and the rating itself another.

Davis says the poor ranking was the result of his discarding an information sheet on his players that he was supposed to submit. In Davis' opinion, there had not been enough tennis played to make a judgment.

"I knew Darin would be strong," Davis said, "but I figured we'd have to let the racquets do the talking."

Davis assumed at the time that he would be sent another information sheet before the ratings next were released. He was wrong.

"As a team we were 14th when we should have been fifth or sixth," Davis said.

"Yeah, but Don moved up," Pleasant cracked.

Said Davis: "Yeah, Don Pigasant moved up from 43rd to 33rd--they gave him a real big jump." In fact, Pleasant had soundly defeated eight of the players ranked ahead of him.

No big deal, Pleasant said while resting before his second-round Ojai match at the Cabrillo Tennis Club, "I don't care about the rankings at all. If they don't know who I am, they're going to find out here or in the state tournament."

Word should be spreading rather quickly by now. Pleasant defeated Steve Kobold of Chaffey College, 6-1, 6-2, and John Gabriel of Orange Coast, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, Friday to advance to the quarterfinals. He will play Lance Kronberg of Santa Barbara City College this morning at 8 at the Ojai Valley Racquet Club. Kronberg upset Marco Redaelli of West Valley College, the No. 1 seeded player from Northern California, 7-6, 6-4, Friday.

The semifinals will be played at the racquet club at 11 a.m., with the championship being decided at 9 a.m. Sunday at Libbey Park in Ojai.

Pleasant, a freshman out of Westlake High, is playing in his fourth Ojai tournament but has never before advanced as far. Where he finishes this time around is especially important because a scholarship to a major college could be on the line.

After winning the Marmonte League singles championship last season, Pleasant accepted a scholarship to UC Riverside, then changed his mind.

Riverside plays at the Division II level and Pleasant was convinced he belonged in the Pacific 10 Conference. He has given himself one season at Moorpark to prove it.

At Ojai he has a captive audience of coaches. The Pac-10 has its own competition within the tournament and most of the other West Coast schools are represented in an independent category.

"The only real way for them to see me is for me to get to the finals of this, which I should do," Pleasant said. "I just want to get there so I can show them."

And if he should draw a particular opponent in the final, well, that would be even better.

Billy Miller, Santa Barbara City College's top player, is the only WSC player remaining who has defeated Pleasant this year. In a match at Santa Barbara on Tuesday, Miller came back from a 5-2 deficit in the third and deciding set to win, 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

Pleasant had won three consecutive games and needed only one more to win before rain delayed the match for more than an hour. After play resumed, Pleasant managed to reach a match point, but he never won another game.

"It was a strange match," Davis said. "If they ever play again Darin will beat him, I just know it."

Pleasant, who would rather play than talk, didn't make any predictions. "I think I can do a lot better than I did," he said. "Maybe he can, too. I'd just like to find out."

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