As Usual, Beverly Hills Is Putting Up a Racket


Last year, Beverly Hills High School’s boys’ tennis team lost to Santa Barbara in the Southern Section 4-A Division championship match, which was determined by total games won after the teams tied in sets, 9-9.

Now those teams may be headed for a playoff rematch, with defending champion Santa Barbara ranked No. 1 and the Normans No. 2 in the current Southern Section tennis poll.

But Beverly Hills Coach Jason Newman says that the key for his team in reaching the playoff final again is to avoid looking ahead to Santa Barbara.


“We can not overlook the rest of the teams because there are so many good ones this year,” said Newman, in his sixth year as Beverly Hills’ coach. “We cannot look down the road past any team because teams like Corona del Mar, Dana Hills and University Irvine are all good.”

Newman also said that the Normans should be considered underdogs if they do face Santa Barbara in the playoffs, having already lost to the Dons, 10-8.

“In order for us to defeat them, we will have to compete throughout the match,” said Newman, who graduated from Beverly Hills in 1969. “Santa Barbara never quits and is always intense. That is what makes them so great. But, we feel that we can be competitive against them.”

Beverly Hills, which has not won a Southern Section title since 1973, may not be the favorite going into the playoffs, but the school certainly has quality players.

Junior Billy Wright, the Normans’ No. 1 singles player, is one of the top players in Southern California. His uncle, Perry Wright, won the Southern Section individual title for Beverly Hills in 1974.

“Billy, who is our top player, is in his third year playing varsity for us,” Newman said. “In playing singles, he has lost only two sets the entire year.”


The Normans also feature a strong No. 1 doubles team of senior Danny Roberts and junior John Parker.

“They are the strength of the team,” Newman said. “They have not lost more than one set all year long in league play.”

Roberts, who has played varsity doubles since his freshman year, is known for his ability to read the court.

“Danny is the master of angles,” Newman said. “He has great court sense in setting play up for him and his partner.”

Junior Lev Shvarts and senior Bob Baravarian make up the Normans’ No. 2 doubles team.

“They really complement our No. 1 team,” Newman said. “They have improved throughout the season because they have had to practice against Roberts and Parker.”

Other key players for the Normans are senior Eric Menendez, the team’s No. 2 singles player, and sophomore Ravi Aysola and junior Doron Adhami, who make up the No. 3 doubles team.


“The strength of our team, is our depth,” Newman said. “We may not have the best players in the CIF, but we do have nine very good players.”

When asked why Beverly Hills is able to consistently field winning tennis teams, Newman said:

“In order to have a successful program, you need to have depth because one good player cannot carry a team to a state title.

“Tennis is not a self-taught sport, so schools in more affluent areas have stronger programs. They have an advantage where economically the kids have an opportunity to take lessons at an early age. They are fortunate enough to be able to afford to get started early.

“Most of the top players all started taking lessons when they were 8 or 9 years old. However, what they have in common is that they had to work harder than the rest.”

Now, Newman is hoping that Beverly Hills’ hard work pays off, as his team prepares for the Southern Section playoffs, which begin next week.


In baseball last week, Dan Melendez of Playa del Rey St. Bernard failed to close in on the Southern Section record for home runs in a prep career, 32, set by Simi Valley’s Scott Sharts last season.

Melendez, who has 30 home runs, did not hit one last week but he did win his ninth game of the season.

He gave up one hit in four innings in the Vikings’ 5-0 victory over St. Monica. With that win, he is 9-1, with 71 strikeouts and a 1.17 earned-run average.

At the plate, Melendez is batting .576, with 11 home runs, 35 runs batted in, 18 stolen bases and has been walked 26 times.

With a week remaining in the regular season, Melendez has two scheduled games plus the playoffs during which to break the home run record.

And considering the kind of hitter Melendez is, his coach Bob Yarnall, expects Melendez to play in the field when he moves on to Pepperdine next season.


“He is just too good a hitter to not have play every day,” Yarnall said. “No one tries to pitch to him because he is so dangerous. His stats speak for themselves.”

Bakersfield High’s hopes for a state title in girls’ track and field were dealt a setback when junior Dawn Dumble, who is the nation’s leading shotputter at 48-9, and discus thrower at 170-11, suffered a season-ending knee injury in late April.

Dumble injured her knee at home and will undergo surgery.

Meanwhile, Russell White of Encino Crespi, better known for his football exploits, posted four impressive marks in the Del Rey League finals at Cal State Northridge last Friday.

White, who will attend California next fall on a football scholarship, won the 100 meters in 10.7 seconds and recorded season bests in winning the 200 at 21.4, the long jump at 23 feet 9 1/2 inches and the triple jump at 48-10 1/2.

Other noted football players who starred on the track over the weekend:

--USC-bound Curtis Conway of Hawthorne, who ran 10.64 and 21.08 in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively, on a dirt track at Hawthorne High in the Bay League finals.

--Beno Bryant of L.A. Dorsey, a tailback who will attend Washington, ran 10.6 in the 100 meters and 49.8 in the 400 meters at the City Southern Pacific Conference finals.


--Charles Levy of Lynwood, a junior quarterback and kick returner who is considered one of the top returning prospects in the nation, won the 100 and 200 meters and also anchored two state qualifying relay teams in the San Gabriel Valley League finals.

Prep Notes

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will conduct a free football clinic at El Camino College in Gardena, Saturday, May 20 on the North Athletic Field. Players from the Raiders, Rams and San Diego Chargers are expected. For details, contact the FCA office at (714) 891-2433.