Estancia boys’ tennis finishes strong to beat rival Costa Mesa

Senior leadership paid off for the Estancia High boys’ tennis team in Tuesday’s Orange Coast League match against rival Costa Mesa.

The Eagles held a 9-8 advantage with one set remaining on court, but the Mustangs had enough games to clinch the victory should it come to that. Estancia turned to its senior co-captains, Matt Forbath and Bryan Vivar, to earn the win at No. 1 doubles against Costa Mesa’s No. 3 pairing of sophomore Devon Chavero and freshman Ed Gaites.

With everyone watching, the moment seemed to get to Forbath and Vivar. They were up 5-3, but Vivar double-faulted on break point as Costa Mesa got back on serve.

“We tensed up,” Vivar said. “Then we pulled it back together.”

They earned their own break of serve in the very next game, with Forbath’s volley clinching both the set win and a 10-8 victory for Estancia in the first Battle for the Bell match at Costa Mesa.

Estancia, which starts five seniors, got a leg up on Costa Mesa, which has all freshmen and sophomores on its roster. The Eagles (3-5, 2-1 in league) are alone in second place in league, behind nine-time defending league champion Laguna Beach (4-0 in league). Costa Mesa (3-7, 1-2) fell into a third-place tie with Godinez.

Forbath said it felt good to beat the rival Mustangs, especially after losing twice to Costa Mesa last year. Like Tuesday’s match, those scores were close, as Estancia fell 10-8 and 9-9 on games.

“You don’t need to manage this team that much,” said Forbath, in his third year playing doubles with Vivar. “Everyone’s pretty mature. I think it helps having a lot of seniors.”

Junior Jake Hastings swept 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 singles for Estancia, which nearly fell behind after the first round. But Forbath and Vivar were also clutch early, as their 7-5 win over Costa Mesa sophomores Gavin Trueblood and Antonio Mondragon helped Estancia forge a 3-3 tie.

The Eagles, who got two singles wins from senior Roger Tomlinson, took a 7-5 sets lead after the second round. But Costa Mesa sophomore Hritik Ronvelia earned his second win of the day by outlasting Tomlinson 7-5 in the third round, knotting the score at 8-8.

With two doubles sets on court and Costa Mesa up by five games, the hosts needed just one more win to earn a victory on games. But Eagles seniors Jonathan Do and Joey Wakely earned their second win of the day, 6-3 over Trueblood and Mondragon, to put Estancia in the lead again and set up Forbath and Vivar’s heroics.

“It was great to get a victory today,” Estancia coach Leland Buttle said. “It always means a lot when you’re playing the cross-town rival. We relied on our seniors, and they were the ones who clinched it for us.”

The teams won’t have to wait long for their second league meeting, as they match up again on April 11 at Estancia. This time, it may be Costa Mesa that comes in hungry for revenge.

Ronvelia won twice in singles Tuesday for the Mustangs, while the No. 2 doubles team of Victor Tran and Joel Ramos also won twice.

Costa Mesa was deeper, easily sweeping Estancia’s No. 3 singles player and No. 3 doubles team, but it came up just short.

“I’m proud of the kids,” Costa Mesa coach Ryan Broccolo said. “They’re a young team and they get better with every match. I think this is just going to fire them up for the rest of the season. We’ve been tested so many times, with so many 9-9 matches [four in all], and I think every one of those matches is going to make them stronger.”

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