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Corona del Mar, Fountain Valley boys’ tennis teams land in CIF Southern Section Open Division

Fountain Valley High School's Alan Ton, shown running down a forehand in March 2020.
Alan Ton, shown running down a forehand in March 2020, is a key player for the Fountain Valley High School boys’ tennis team.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Corona del Mar and Fountain Valley high school tennis teams split two Surf League matches this season and ended up splitting the league title.

With the gas prices these days, maybe the Sea Kings and Barons can split gas money on Saturday, too.

Both teams have a lengthy trip to make in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs, they learned when the section office released the playoff brackets Monday.

CdM and Fountain Valley were two of six local boys’ tennis teams to advance to the postseason. Sage Hill will vie in Division 1, as will Laguna Beach in Division 2.

Marina is the No. 2 seed in Division 3, while Costa Mesa, Estancia and Ocean View are all in the Division 5 draw.

CdM (12-1) will hit the road Saturday to play at No. 3-seeded Marmonte League champion Calabasas (17-2) in its Open Division first-round match. The Sea Kings are strong in singles with Niels Hoffmann, Max Krykunenko and Logan Friedman.

Hoffmann, the younger brother of former CdM star Bjorn Hoffmann, advanced to the Surf League singles title match before losing to Fountain Valley’s Alan Ton. Friedman and Krykunenko each made the league semifinals.

Fountain Valley's Kai Rodriguez, right, hits a hard serve with partner Nathan Dang in March 2020.
Fountain Valley’s Kai Rodriguez, right, hits a hard serve with partner Nathan Dang in March 2020. Rodriguez partnered with Ben Nguyen to win this year’s Surf League doubles title, while Dang and partner Ninh Nguyen placed second.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley (15-1) will play at No. 2-seeded Studio City Harvard Westlake (12-1) in the first round Saturday. Ton is the Barons’ singles standout, while seniors Kai Rodriguez and Ben Nguyen won the league’s doubles title.

“It feels really good [to be in the Open Division],” Rodriguez said. “As the years have progressed, our team, each player’s skills progressed as well. Making the Open Division, I feel like it’s where we belong. But we know that definitely it’s going to be a tough challenge.”

Rodriguez and Nguyen are the lone Fountain Valley holdovers from the 2018 Division 2 champion Barons team. Both were freshmen starters on that squad, which won the first CIF title in program history.

Nathan Dang and Albert Ly are the other four-year seniors for the Barons.

“They know what it’s like,” Rodriguez said. “They know what the atmosphere can be like. Sophomore year, a lot of our guys who play now, they played in CIF. We weren’t able to make it as far [to the second round in Division 1], but they earned some experience. That definitely is going to be beneficial for us.”

In Division 1, San Joaquin League champion Sage Hill (12-4) hosts Oak Park (4-3-1) in a first-round match Thursday. Oak Park was the third-place finisher from the Coastal Canyon League.

San Joaquin League singles champion Grant Gallagher and doubles champions Shaan Sakraney and Adi Rawal are key players for the Lightning.

Laguna Beach (11-3), which shared the Wave League title with Marina, opens the Division 2 playoffs with a home match against South Coast League No. 3 representative Tesoro (4-5) on Thursday. The Breakers’ Casey Berk and Matt Boehm won the league doubles title, and Ian MacLaughlin was a league singles finalist.

As for the Vikings (10-5), they earned a first-round bye in Division 3. Marina will host either Los Angeles Milken Community or Whitney in the second round Saturday.

Peter Liang was the Wave League singles champion for Marina.

Orange Coast League champion Costa Mesa and Golden West League champion Ocean View will begin the Division 5 playoffs with home matches Thursday.

Costa Mesa (9-2) will host either Westminster or Palmdale Knight in the first round. Ocean View (10-3) hosts Covina (4-4-1), the No. 3 representative from the Valle Vista League.

Estancia (5-6), which finished second in the Orange Coast League, plays at River Valley League runner-up Riverside Norte Vista (8-2) in a Division 5 first-round match Thursday.

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