CdM boys’ tennis falls to Peninsula in All-American Tournament quarterfinals
On a day when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was paring down to the Elite Eight, the Corona del Mar High boys’ tennis team came close to making the Final Four of its host tournament.
The 22nd annual National High School Tennis All-American Tournament is a big deal, drawing teams from all around the country. In the quarterfinals, CdM went against a team relatively close by, as Palos Verdes Peninsula is less than an hour drive to northwest.
The Sea Kings lost to Palos Verdes 10-8 in a nonleague match earlier this season. Another team from that city was also just slightly better on Friday.
Palos Verdes Peninsula earned a 5-3 quarterfinal win in the All-American Tournament quarterfinals.
Unlike college basketball, there were no big upsets, as each of the top four seeds made the semifinals on Saturday. The No. 4-seeded Panthers will play top-seeded Punahou School of Hawaii at 10 a.m. at CdM. No. 2-seeded Menlo School of Atherton plays No. 3 University in the other semifinal.
The tournament championship match is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Palisades Tennis Club.
As for CdM, the Sea Kings host Palo Alto Gunn in a fifth-place semifinal Saturday at CdM.
The tournament features a format of five singles and three doubles pro-sets, with athletes allowed to play in both. Corona del Mar junior Niels Hoffmann won in both singles and doubles in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Hoffmann, a USC commit, beat Peninsula’s Sean Ferguson 8-5 in singles. He and Jack Cross, who made the CIF Individuals doubles title match last year, earned an 8-3 doubles win.
But CdM’s only other point came at No. 4 singles, where freshman Ivan Pfleuger outlasted Peninsula’s Christopher Koeberle 9-8 in a tiebreaker.
“That was a sick win,” Hoffmann said. “I don’t know, on paper you can’t really ask for much more than that. One upset, and we lose everything else that we were supposed to. But you know, it was all fun and competitive.”
Pfleuger’s win kept CdM alive, but Peninsula’s Koeberle and Kyle Shigekawa shut the door at No. 2 doubles, rallying for an 8-6 win over CdM’s Jonathan Hinkel and Roger Geng.
Cross fell to the ground early in his No. 2 singles match against Peninsula freshman Keaton Hance. He tried to rally but ended up retiring down 4-0.
“I hit a serve, went to hit another serve and just felt a throbbing headache,” said Cross, who held an ice pack to his head later in the match. “I went down, and it never really went away. It got a little better for the doubles.”
The Sea Kings (4-2) are ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, behind top-ranked University, Palos Verdes and Peninsula. But the margins are fairly small. They lost 11-7 to University early in the season and play the Trojans again in a key nonleague match on Tuesday.
CdM is competitive, in no small part due to the continued emergence of Hoffmann, who has made a significant jump in his tennis from his sophomore to junior year.
“It’s small things here and there, but they seem to add up,” he said. “I definitely feel a little more confident, and that’s half the battle. Over time, things click a little more.”
CdM opened the All-American Tournament earlier Friday with an 8-0 victory over Brophy Jesuit Prep.
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