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Woodbridge Bounces Back to Repeat as Champions

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A few gutty performances got Woodbridge through some tough sets and then the Warriors went on to win their second consecutive Southern Section Division I boys’ tennis title with a 12-6 victory over Los Angeles Loyola Wednesday at USC.

The turning point in the match came with top-seeded Woodbridge (25-0) leading, 3-0, but behind in the three sets being played. Then Brandon Shainfeld and Greg Levy rallied from an 0-3 deficit to defeat second-seeded Loyola’s top doubles team, J.J. Stewart and Paul Moore, in a nail-biting tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Shainfeld and Levy were down, 0-2, before battling back to win the set, 7-6 (7-5), for a 4-0 Warrior lead. Loyola (23-2) won the final two sets, ending the round, down 4-2.

“We decided to both play back after we were losing,” Levy said. “J.J. [Stewart] has a field day when he comes in to the net. So when he came in we just kept the ball away from him.”

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Loyola closed the gap to 4-3 in the second round, but Woodbridge pulled away and went on for the victory, giving Woodbridge and Coach Joan Willett a sweep in Southern Section tennis this season. The girls’ team won the title in the fall.

“It’s hard to win a [Southern Section] championship,” said Willett, who graduates only one senior from the boys’ team. “I credit both the girls and boys for winning some tough matches.’

The Warriors sealed the victory when the doubles team of Ali Kermani and James Hunter responded after losing their first two sets, 4-6, 0-6, to defeat Chris Cooley and Eric Smith, 6-4. Hunter, a sophomore who has played in only half of the team’s matches this season because of roster rotations, found out the day before the match that he would be playing in the championship.

“I played pretty bad in the first set and in the second they were the better team,” Hunter said. “In the last game we knew the score and we knew that our match was for the whole thing.”

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Said Willett: “I have 12 guys and the extra guys are all dead even. They all could have stepped in today. Jim is just a gutsy player. I went on my intuition.”


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