The Corona del Mar High boys’ tennis team has left what would be considered the best league in the country.
The Sea Kings are no longer in the Pacific Coast League, after moving to the Surf League that’s part of the Sunset Conference. Not that CdM coach Jamie Gresh is interested in severing those ties with past league rivals.
Corona del Mar has Beckman, University, Northwood and Woodbridge all on its schedule for nonleague matches. The Sea Kings (1-2) beat the Patriots on games on Feb. 27, lost 13-5 to University the following day and lost to Northwood 11-7 on Thursday.
These matches ultimately don’t figure into CdM’s season goals, which Gresh said are to win the Surf League and get back to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff quarterfinals, the round that CdM reached last year before losing on games to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa. Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos are the other teams in the Surf League; the Oilers play at CdM on Monday in a league opener.
Senior Kyle Pham, bound for Southern Methodist University, anchors the Sea Kings’ singles lineup. Last year’s Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year went 44-11 in singles as a junior.
“We’re looking for him to have a big year,” Gresh said. “He’ll be a good leader in practice and on the court, with his experience.”
Seniors Luke Muradliyan and Tyler Hollander are a returning doubles team for the Sea Kings, and junior John Dick and sophomore Bradley Amor can contribute in singles or doubles. Freshmen Logan Friedman and Max Krykunenko also look to play a big role.
Fountain Valley, last year’s Division 2 champions, also has Surf League title aspirations. The Barons (5-2) return their entire singles lineup with senior Justin Nguyen, junior Ryan Trinh and sophomore Ben Nguyen.
Huntington Beach also has a strong squad, as coach Josh Anderson returns all nine starters from last year’s Division 2 quarterfinalist. Jon Gottschalk and George Vo, senior captains and No. 1 doubles players, lead the way for the Oilers (4-2).
The Wave League features Edison, Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor and Marina. Edison (4-2), led by sophomore Jason You in singles and seniors Ryan Lum and Logan Sherouse in doubles, got off to a good start in league with Thursday’s 10-8 win at Laguna Beach. Coach Dave Lemons said the Chargers have never won league or made CIF in his 11-year tenure, and they could possibly do both this season.
Laguna Beach (4-4), last year’s Division 4 titlist, moves over from the Orange Coast League. Senior Mason Lebby, last year’s league singles champion, anchors the singles lineup along with junior Andrew Johnson, who starred as quarterback for the Breakers football team last fall.
Coach Rick Conkey said the Breakers have a deep doubles lineup including junior Mohammad Beri and sophomore Matthew Duong, who won the league doubles title last season.
Newport Harbor (1-4) is anchored by senior Josh Watkins, in his second year at No. 1 singles, who won the Sunset League doubles title last season with graduate Andy Myers. Sophomore Prescott Cook at No. 2 singles, as well as seniors Julian Hernandez and Oscar Tabares at No. 1 doubles, also lead the Sailors.
“We have a great deal of respect for all of our opponents in the league,” Sailors coach Kristen Case said. “We are placing all of our energy and attention on improving ourselves and as a team, and if we continue to learn and grow and compete hard, we feel we always have the opportunity for success.”
Sage Hill (5-0) appears to be the class of the new San Joaquin League after routing rival St. Margaret’s 18-0 on Tuesday. Coach Whit Kenerson said the Lightning have 11 of their top 12 players returning, including seniors Emin Torlic and Steven Ferry and junior Rohun Krishnan. Torlic was last year’s Academy League singles champion.
Costa Mesa looks to be competitive in the new-look Orange Coast League. The Mustangs (4-3) have freshman Ethan Votran and juniors Hritik Ronvelia and Nathan Trieu as singles players, while freshman Eli Weiss-Hung and sophomore Hartley Tran are key doubles players.
Costa Mesa coach Ryan Broccolo said that the league is a four-team league this season, as Orange and Santa Ana joined, while Saddleback and Calvary Chapel are not fielding varsity teams.
“If our team continues to improve, I think we have a great chance of being one of the two top teams in the league, making CIF and contending for a league title,” Broccolo said. “They are improving each and every day and are bonding like a tennis family.”
Estancia (2-3) is guided by first-year coach Freddy Polanco. Senior singles player Jake Hastings, a league singles finalist a year ago, went on to CIF Individuals. However, Polanco said the Eagles are young overall.