BURROUGHS HIGH — Looking at the semifinal bracket for the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, one team might appear out of place to those familiar with the division’s top squads.
The top three seeds are represented among the final four, as No. 1 Palm Desert, No. 2 Arcadia and No. 3 Santa Monica have probably surprised few by advancing to the semifinals. In fact, many probably figured the three would be right where they are at this point in the season.
The fourth squad in the semifinals is one that many are probably surprised has gotten this far in the postseason. That team is Burroughs High.
Despite not being ranked among the top 10 teams in the division going into the playoffs, the Indians have persevered and pulled off a major upset on their way to securing a spot in the semifinals.
However, getting to the division championship won’t be an easy task for Burroughs (12-3), which placed second in the Pacific League behind champion Arcadia. The Indians will take on a tough Palm Desert team at 3 p.m. Tuesday in a match on the road at the Rancho Las Palmas Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
“I knew that we were going to do well because we went down to Arcadia and almost beat them,” said Burroughs Coach Roy Bernhardt, whose team fell twice to the Apaches by identical 10-8 scores. “But in the one match [Indians’ No. I singles] Garrett [Auproux] hurt his shoulder and had to retire.”
It is a historic postseason run for the Indians, as this is the first time the program has been able to advance to the semifinals. Burroughs’ best postseason run prior to this season came in 2008, when a Trevor Campbell-Robert Henry squad fell in the quarterfinals to San Luis Obispo, 13-5.
That was just one year removed from the Indians making it to the playoffs in 2007 for the first time in 13 years.
In contrast, Palm Desert has won two CIF titles, in 1995 and 2002. The Aztecs also made it to the finals twice in recent years, losing both times in games: 80-75, against Brentwood in 2010 and 84-73 to Diamond Bar in 2008.
Burroughs comes into the semifinal after pulling out a 10-8 win Tuesday in the quarterfinals against Beverly Hills. The Indians also upset No. 5 Villa Park, 10-8, May 13 and opened the playoffs with a 14-4 victory against Oxnard.
The Aztecs (19-1) have put together a fine season, and among their accomplishments is winning the Desert Valley League title. In addition, nine of the team’s players are ranked in the Southern California Tennis Assn. or by the United States Tennis Assn.
Palm Desert’s lone loss was an 11-7 defeat against Division I Peninsula on April 22.
In the playoffs, Palm Desert defeated Walnut, 13-5, in its quarterfinal match Tuesday. The Aztecs have also posted playoff wins against Anaheim Canyon, 15-3, and Claremont, 15-3.
Coached by Randy Blalock, Palm Desert boasts a strong singles contingent of Aidan Koross, Abe Hewko and Austin Graham. The doubles teams are paced by league champions Blake Eggleston and Chris Bastardi, along with the teams of Jack Felich and Nick Cummins and Michael Durkin and Cameron McDonald.
In the win against Walnut, Koross earned a sweep, 6-0, 6-2, 6-0, as did the duo of Felich and Cummins, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.
Burroughs counters with a strong singles player in Auproux, who captured the league championship. Auproux has lost just one set this season and has a 44-1 record. Auproux earned a 6-0, 6-4, 6-0 sweep in the quarterfinals against Beverly Hills.
The Indians also have two other solid singles in Calvin Fox and Michael Whelan.
Leading the team’s doubles corps are league champions Wen Yao Lin and Oscar Lam, which went 6-3, 7-5, 5-7 against Beverly Hills. The doubles teams of Kevin Hoang and Phillip Lam, along with Brian Hoang and Eric Lee, have also enjoyed success in the playoffs.
“The kids are excited to be this far in the playoffs,” Bernhardt said. “This will be a tough match for us, but we will see what we can do. If anything, we’ll enjoy the bus ride there.”