Huntington Beach boys’ tennis wins first league title since 1984

Caleb Goodman runs down a backhand in his Wave League boys' tennis singles match.
Caleb Goodman runs down a backhand in a Wave League boys’ tennis match against Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach’s depth and balance has informed its unbeaten run through the Wave League boys’ tennis schedule this year, so it was fitting these elements keyed Tuesday afternoon’s triumph that clinched the league championship, the program’s first such conquest in 40 years.

Caleb Goodman fought back from two match points to pull out the No. 1 singles battle on a tiebreaker, then did not surrender a game the rest of the way in leading the Oilers to a 14-4 romp over visiting Newport Harbor to snare the crown.

Seniors Amrit Grewal and Ethan Le, the top doubles team, also delivered all three available sets, winning 18 of 23 games, to prod Huntington Beach (10-5, 5-0 in the Wave League) to a big, early advantage.


It was over at 10-2 when Nico Ayers and Joshua Soeda, stepping in for No. 3 pair Lucas Do and Nima Rassouli, routed the Sailors’ No. 1 team before the final singles sets began.

Donovan Le of Huntington Beach hits a solid backhand against Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“It’s a big deal,” said first-year head coach Jill Muranaka, who guides the Oilers’ girls’ team in the fall. “These kids, they did it themselves. The chemistry on this team is wonderful. They’re just very good friends, and they’re so respectful. It’s been a joy to coach them.”

Huntington Beach, which won its fourth league championship in boys’ tennis overall — the last in 1984 — came in with a decided advantage after Ryan Honary, the Sailors’ top singles player, tweaked his knee in practice Monday and was scratched from the lineup. The sophomore standout, who reached the Wave League singles final last year and had dropped just one set all season, went 3-0 against the Oilers in last month’s first meeting — a 10-8 Huntington Beach win — and figured to do so again.

“That definitely played a factor in today’s outcome, because we lose three matches right from the start that’s guaranteed,” said Newport Harbor head coach J.D. Owens, who pushed No. 2 Jasper Hine, also a sophomore, to the top spot and moved Sean Pelletier from doubles to No. 3, where he went 0-3.

“[Honary in the first match] beat me, 6-3, and I’m relatively certain he would [have swept] singles, so he definitely was sorely missed,” Goodman said. “It would have been more competitive, but I’m not crying about it.”

Parker Kuo of Huntington Beach competes in a doubles match against Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Hine nearly captured all three of his sets, but he failed to convert four times at match point against Goodman, then hit long on the decisive point in the tiebreaker. Hine lost just one game in his other sets.

“I was down, 4-5 [on games], 15-40 [on points],” said Goodman, who served an ace for a 5-2 lead in the 7-4 tiebreaker triumph. “Two years ago, I double faulted at 4-5, 15-40 [in a set], so I was telling myself, ‘You’re a different player, it’s not going to happen again.’ It was me playing better in the games afterward, but it was him missing in that game that allowed me to win that match.”

Parker Kuo and Donovan Le at No. 2 doubles also contributed two sets to the Oilers’ total.

Newport Harbor (5-9, 2-3) fell to third place but can claim the league’s second guaranteed playoff berth by beating visiting Fountain Valley (4-10, 0-5) on Thursday, if Huntington Beach wins at Laguna Beach (3-9, 3-2), a 10-8 winner Tuesday over the Barons. Newport Harbor holds the tiebreaker over the Breakers with a 19-17 edge in sets in their split series.

Amrit Grewal of Huntington Beach hits a serve against Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)