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McClune Clicks for Woodbridge
When Michael McClune won two matches in short order to win the Southern Section boys' singles championship, it made for a fitting end to a season full of success for the Irvine Woodbridge sophomore.
"I really did everything I wanted to do," McClune said. "It was definitely a great year. I'm playing really well, and I just have a lot of confidence right now."
That confidence showed in a stunning 6-0, 6-1 rout of Cale Planck, a Palm Desert senior who will play at Oklahoma next season, in the semifinals, and was evident in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Corona del Mar senior Wesley Miller in the final match of the Southern Section tournament May 28.
"I was playing out of my mind that day," said McClune, The Times' boys' tennis player of the year.
The victories over Planck and Miller were the culmination of a breakthrough season in which McClune went 57-0 in sets, won the Sea View League singles title and the interscholastic division championship of the Ojai tournament, and became Woodbridge's first Southern Section singles champion. He also led the Warriors (21-3) to the Division I semifinals in the team playoffs.
"He really peaked at the right time," Coach Ric Barth said. "Miller played him tough, but when you beat a Cale Planck, who's a good player going on to play Division I tennis, like that, that's pretty convincing. It was just the perfect season for him."
McClune's success was the result of several factors.
The 15-year-old, ranked No. 1 in the boys' 16s division and No. 7 in boys' 18s in Southern California by the U.S. Tennis Assn., has grown six inches in the last two years to reach 6 feet 1.
He also is beginning to add bulk to his lanky, 150-pound frame with a strength-training and conditioning program under the guidance of personal coach Jimmy Johnson.
"He's kind of an unassuming-looking opponent, but he's just a fierce competitor and he's got all the skills," Johnson said. "It's to the point that he's pretty well-known now. When people face Mike, they kind of know that he's the real deal."
Added physical strength has helped McClune develop a more dangerous serve that has climbed to about 125 mph since he lost in the Southern Section semifinals last season. Natural maturation and development have fortified his top-flight forehand and uncanny ability to play from behind.
In the Ojai tournament in April, McClune trailed West Torrance sophomore Jason Jung, 3-0, in the third set of a semifinal match but rebounded to win, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. McClune also lost the first set of the Ojai final match to Stanford-bound Blake Muller of Santa Barbara but rallied to win the championship, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
"I feel like I know what I'm doing more now. I'm just playing smarter, and that helps a lot," McClune said. "It just shows that all the work I've done is starting to pay off."
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THE TIMES' ALL-STAR BOYS' TENNIS TEAM
Michael McClune Woodbridge So.
Player of the year posted a 57-0 record, winning the Southern Section individual title and leading Warriors to semifinals of Division I playoffs.
Wesley Miller Corona del Mar Sr.
Two-time Pacific Coast League champion went 41-1 in round-robin sets, was Southern Section singles runner-up to McClune and an Ojai Valley semifinalist.
Blake Muller Santa Barbara Sr.
Southern Section semifinalist and Ojai runner-up had a 60-4 record and led Dons to All-American tournament title and a runner-up finish in Division I.
Jason Jung West Torrance So.
Always a dangerous opponent, Bay League singles champion was 54-5 in sets and a semifinalist in Southern Section and Ojai Valley tournaments.
Scott Hohenstein Anaheim Canyon Sr.
Ryan Sandburg Sr.
Ojai doubles champions went unbeaten in two years together in Southern Section tournament, winning this season and in 2003.
Andy Gerst Redondo Sr.
Nick Berger Sr.
Southern Section runners-up and Ojai semifinalists also excelled in singles during the regular season and led Redondo to Division I quarterfinals.
Grant Robertson Santa Barbara Sr.
Chris Ho So.
Ojai runners-up went 30-3 in round-robin sets and advanced to quarterfinals of Southern Section tournament.
Coach of the Year: Chris Simpson and Tony Isaacs, Harvard-Westlake
Since arriving at Harvard-Westlake in 2001, Simpson and Isaacs have guided the Wolverines to three Southern Section championships, including their second consecutive Division I title with a 15-3 victory over Santa Barbara on June 1. The Wolverines have won 45 consecutive matches.
Daniel Freeman Brentwood Sr.
Rainier Matias Narbonne So.
Cale Planck Palm Desert Sr.
Lawrence Wang Troy Sr.
Josh Lederman Harvard-Westlake Sr.
Sam Wagner Sr.
Bret Thacher Harvard-Westlake Sr.
Ryan Thacher Fr.
Matt Chou Corona del Mar Sr.
Spencer Reitz Sr.