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Laguna opens with a victory

Before the Laguna Beach High boys’ tennis team took the court Wednesday for its opening game of the 2010 CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs, Breakers Coach Aaron Talarico had a simple postseason formula for his team to follow.

“In order to make a good dent in this year’s playoffs, the boys will have to take it one match at a time," he said Tuesday.

The Breakers took that first postseason step by defeating South Hills, 12-6, in a hard-fought battle on the Laguna courts.

The score was tied at 3 after the first round before Breakers singles player Hutton Mckenna and the doubles team of Alex Gromet and Cameron Cornell stepped up to upset the Huskies’ No. 1 singles player and No. 2 doubles team, respectively. Those victories allowed Laguna to win the second series, 5-1.

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Mckenna finished a sweep in singles play by scoring a 6-0 win over South Hills’ No. 3 player.

Also in singles play, No. 1 Benito Romeo won two of three sets, as did No. 1 Teague Hamilton and Mike Rubel and No. 2 Paul Salomon and Morgan Lebby in doubles play.

Laguna Coach Aaron Talarico named Mckenna of the match.

“Despite a very tough South Hills team, I felt the boys stepped up their game when it mattered most," Talarico said. “We still have a very long way to go, but I was proud of them today.

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“Hutton had a breakthrough day today."

The win moves the No. 4-seeded Breakers into a second-round match at 3 p.m. today at Sunbelt League champion Paloma Valley.

The winner moves on to Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.

Orange Coast League champion Laguna, which entered the playoffs with a No. 4 seed in Division IV, readied itself for the postseason by playing an incredibly tough nonleague schedule during the regular season.

That slate sent the Breakers up against University, Corona del Mar, Santa Barbara, Palos Verdes, Dana Hills, Troy, Villa Park, Mater Dei, Piedmont, Los Gatos, Mission and Cerritos. The also picked up big wins over Whitney, Sage Hill and Dana Hills.

“This season has been a lesson in humility and patience for the coach, and I believe for the boys. It has taught them to never give up, even when you’re down," Talarico said.

“We had a very difficult schedule. We played six top 10 (CIF) Division I teams, as well as playing the Division I level of a Fresno tournament. It has been interesting to see the boys develop a team camaraderie from the tough losses we took. I think that part of succeeding is knowing what it feels like to fail and hopefully this results in my boys having resilience needed to win in CIF.

“In addition, we had five starting players from last year’s squad not play this year for various reasons and it resulted in the returning varsity players (Benito Romeo, Mike Rubel, Paul Salomon, Alex Gromet, Cameron Cornell) stepping up and the younger guys (Teague Hamilton, Hutton McKenna, Morgan Lebby, Owen Weber) filling in some pretty big shoes."

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At the Orange Coast League finals that ended May 5 on the Laguna courts, the Breakers swept to first-, second- and third-place finishes in both singles and doubles.

The league singles title was won by top-seed Romeo, who defeated No. 2 Mckenna in the final. Laguna’s Owen Weber captured third-place.

Hamilton and Rubel won the doubles crown by defeating teammates Alex Gromet and Cameron Cornell in the final. Salomon and Lebby took third-place.



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