Third-seeded Hernan Olivas used his powerful serve and some spectacular returns to win the first set, but when he needed just one shot to defeat top-seeded defending champion Ignacio Martinez in the San Diego Section boys' tennis semifinals Thursday, he didn't have it.
Olivas, of Vincent Memorial, was leading the third set, 5-4, and serving for the match, but Martinez, of St. Augustine, rallied to force a tiebreaker and win, 6-7 (7-3), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), at San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club.
With second-seeded Francisco Santillan of Hilltop beating No. 6 Chris Tontz of USDHS, 6-3, 6-2, in the other semifinal, the stage was set for a rematch of the 1989 section final, in which Martinez defeated Santillan, 6-3, 7-6. The two will play at 3:30 p.m. today.
That won't be the only rematch. Top-seeded Jimmy Brown and Tim Kreysing of La Jolla and second-seeded James Conda and Jon Elsberry of La Jolla won their semifinals. These two teams met two weeks ago, when Brown and Kreysing battled back from a 5-2 deficit and two match points in the third set to beat their teammates in the City Western League doubles final. Their match will start at 2 p.m.
"This was my toughest match (of the season)," Martinez said after he rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third-set tiebreaker against Olivas. "I was playing consistent, but his passing shots gave me trouble."
Olivas charged to the net after he served at match point, but Martinez slapped a risky backhand crossing shot behind him, then won the next two points to break Olivas' serve and tie it at 5-5.
Olivas was vocal and animated through most of the match of nearly three hours and had received a verbal warning for cursing in Spanish. After he reacted to a passing shot by Martinez that made it 3-3 in the tiebreaker, Olivas was penalized one point for misconduct by line judge Robbin Adair. Martinez won three of the next four points and finished the match with a running volley that Olivas couldn't return.
For Martinez, it was a long and tiring afternoon that began with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) quarterfinal victory over Jose Medrano of Bishop's. Santillan beat St. Augustine's German Aragon, 7-5, 6-2, and breezed against Tontz, a junior, who outlasted fourth-seeded David Smith of La Jolla in a mild quarterfinal upset, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.