The Bell tennis team chose an unfortunate time to lose its first match of the season.
After winning all 13 of its regular season matches and three playoff contests, the Eagles succumbed, 18-11 1/2, to a stronger Van Nuys team Tuesday in the City Section 3-A Team Finals at Studio City Racquet Centre.
"We were beat by a better team," said Coach Janet Spurlock, who guided the Eagles to their first finals appearance.
Van Nuys, which finished its season at 14-1, had two singles players--No. 1 Steve Parks and No. 4 Arash Parang--who did not lose a finals match.
Bell got as close as 12-11 1/2 in the round-robin tournament, but the Wolves scored the final six points.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was an unusually poor performance by Bell's top singles player, Jose Cardenas, who lost all four of his matches by 6-2 scores to Steve Park, Peter Nam, Arman Dautyan and Arash Parang.
Bell's No. 2 player, Anton Chow, fared slightly better, winning one of his four matches--6-2 over Nam.
"Jose and Anton played up to their potential but lost to better players," said Spurlock.
Bell's No. 3 player, Alfonso Chacon, won only one game against Nam, while losing each of his four matches. Juan Ubario lost three of his four matches but defeated Nam, 6-1, in his final match.
Bell's doubles team of Jaime Cruz and Seo Seung-Hyun took first place, defeating Eric Mendez and Kenny Hsu, 6-3; Kevin Urayama and Anthony Caoyonan, 6-3, and Shashank Sharma and John Florez, 6-1.
"Our third doubles (team) played outstanding," Spurlock said.
Bell's other duo of Jose Ruiz and Oscar de la Rosa took second place, losing only once, 6-4, to Urayama and Caoyonan in their second match.
The Eagles' No. 1 doubles team of Mitchell Apodaca and Edgar Flores also won two of three matches.
Although reaching the finals for the first time was good news for Bell, the bad news is that only three players from this year's team will return next year.
"Alfonso, Oscar and Jaime are the only ones coming back," Spurlock said. "It's going to be a challenge."
Bell defeated Verdugo Hills in the first round, Venice in the quarterfinals and Marshall in the semifinals.
Southern Section Playoffs are scheduled to begin Tuesday at various sites.