Sea Kings awarded No. 3 seed

Daily Pilot

The Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team dropped just two matches this season. Each time it was in Pacific Coast League play to powerhouse University.

The Sea Kings find themselves looking up at the Trojans again. Coach Brian Ricker is OK with it heading into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

CdM earned the No. 3 seed in Division I Monday, when the section released its postseason pairings. The Sea Kings (15-2) are one of four Newport-Mesa area programs that qualified for the playoffs.

CdM, Newport Harbor, Sage Hill School and Estancia open the first round Wednesday.

The Sailors (11-7) are at Dana Hills (14-2) in a Division I match set for 3 p.m.

Sage Hill and Estancia are in Division IV. The Lightning (6-10) play Hemet (10-5) at The Tennis Club at 3 p.m. The Eagles (5-9) travel to Gahr (11-5) for a 3 p.m. match.

Unlike the other three locals, CdM learns of its first-round opponent today.

The Sea Kings play the winner of the wild-card match between Capistrano Valley and Simi Valley. Whomever CdM faces at home Wednesday at 3 p.m., Ricker said his team wouldn't have a problem advancing to the second round.

"Our goal in the beginning of the season was to get to the semis," Ricker said. "We reached the quarterfinals last year after getting knocked out in the second round five straight years. That was a big step."

The Sea Kings enter the playoffs with a lot of confidence despite placing second to University, the top seed and last year's Division I runner-up.

The top singles players, senior Ryan Peyton and junior Shane Korber, have playoff experience. The two played vital roles in the Sea Kings' quarterfinal run last year, when CdM bowed out to eventual champion Thousand Oaks.

Ricker wants another shot at University. The Sea Kings' doubles play might get them to a final date with the favored Trojans on June 2.

Ricker said his three doubles teams of Matt Fisher and Karl Fletcher, Alex Murray and Carter Wheatley, Ismean Aboubakare and Pierce Stemler, are as good as they come.

"If you take out the matches against Uni, our doubles teams have a 126-6 record in Orange County," Ricker said. Newport Harbor's goal in Coach Kristen Case's third year at the helm is to move on to the second round.

The past two seasons, the Sailors have lost in the first round. They have to depend on more than their doubles teams in order to upset Dana Hills, the South Coast League champion.

Case boasts the Sunset League doubles finalists, Jason Cernius and Troy Arnold and Craig McKennon and Greg Brostek.

"I'm looking for my team to do some damage," Case said.

Coach A.G. Longoria guides Sage Hill, the Academy League runner-up, to another postseason berth.

The Lightning have a tougher road than last season, when they reached the semifinals for the first time in school history. If Sage Hill gets past Hemet, the Sunbelt League runner-up, and the second round, it will mostly likely meet second-seeded Cate of Carpinteria in the quarters.

Estancia has a difficult assignment at Gahr, the second-place team out of the San Gabriel Valley League.

Coach Derek Smith, who took over for his wife, Rachel de los Santos, said he doesn't know much about Gahr, just that the school is located in Cerritos.

"Getting to the playoffs again was a big accomplishment," said Smith, whose Eagles, the No. 2 representative from the Orange Coast League, are making their seventh straight postseason appearance.

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