Westlake Finishes With a Flourish
A bad beginning gave way to a much better ending for the Westlake High boys’ tennis team.
Westlake won four of the last six sets to tie the score, 9-9, and the Warriors won a tiebreaker on games, 80-67, in a Marmonte League match Wednesday at Thousand Oaks.
Thousand Oaks (6-2, 4-1 in league play), which finished second to Westlake last season, is expected to challenge the Warriors (5-0, 4-0) for the title.
Challenge the Lancers did, from the start.
Thousand Oaks took a 4-2 advantage that had Coach Bernard Kuai of Westlake shaking his head and mumbling to himself after the first round.
“We had a bad start,” Kuai said. “But at the end, I knew that win or lose, we won, because we fought back.”
It took the Warriors awhile, though.
Thousand Oaks led, 7-5, after the second round and needed only to split six sets in the final round to win.
But No. 1 player Alex Yaftali of Westlake beat No. 3 Eric Tsu, 6-0. Then, the Warriors’ three doubles teams swept the last round.
A 6-3 victory by the No. 3 doubles team of Jackson Ellis and Josh Kuai, the coach’s son, over the Lancers’ No. 2 team of Andrew Peterson and Jason Korniski was the Westlake pair’s first success of the day.
Westlake’s No. 1 team of Matt Pardee and Aaron Bert did not win until gaining a 6-4 victory over No. 3 Darius Amiri and Jayme Reynolds in the last round.
“We finally got going in the last match,” Pardee said. “I told Aaron that we had to win, that that match would be the key.”
Philip Sheng of Thousand Oaks, defending Southern Section singles champion, swept three sets and the Lancers showed surprising depth in doubles.
Thousand Oaks benefited by moving No. 3 singles player Serge Mitrofanov to No. 1 doubles with Willem Suckow.
They won two of three sets, including a 6-3 first-round decision over Pardee and Bert that helped the Lancers get the early jump.
“I thought we were going to beat them,” said Coach Dave Assorson of Thousand Oaks. “There was nothing to indicate they were going to do what they did in that last round. They just kind of came from nowhere.”