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Fountain Valley boys’ tennis routs Beverly Hills to open CIF Division 1 playoffs

The Fountain Valley High boys’ tennis team won the CIF Southern Section Division 2 championship last season, the first section crown in program history.

If the Barons do something special again this spring, the moment will not go uncaptured.

Barons coach Harshul Patel invested in GoPro’s, cameras that have recorded both home and away matches this season. They do not interfere with match play, as they are stationed at the top of the fence behind the baseline.

“The return is the memory, that they would have it for the rest of their life,” Patel said when asked what he hoped for as a return on his investment. “These matches will stick with them once they graduate, and then they will be able to show it to their kids.

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“If they learn a few things from it, then it’s well worth it.”

Fountain Valley has aspirations of winning back-to-back CIF titles, even if it moved up a division. The No. 4-seeded Barons opened the Division 1 playoffs with a 17-1 win over Beverly Hills at home Wednesday.

Photo Gallery: Fountain Valley vs. Beverly Hills in boys’ tennis
Fountain Valley High's Justin Nguyen returns a forehand during the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs against Beverly Hills at home on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Senior Justin Nguyen and junior Ryan Trinh swept in singles for Fountain Valley (14-5).

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“Two is better than one,” Nguyen said of seeking a second CIF championship. “Obviously, I want to end my senior year with another CIF title. That would be awesome. That would make my high school experience…the best I could ask for. Of course the hunger is still there.”

Trinh dropped just one game on the afternoon. He curtailed his normally aggressive playing style to bring about his recent success.

“Coach [Patel], he told me to just make more balls in,” Trinh said. “It seems to be working. The score line was pretty good today. Usually, I used to go for really big shots.

“The strategy is kind of changed now, so it’s working for me. It’s good.”

The Barons swept the first round of match play, pulling out two close sets. Sophomore Ben Nguyen won the No. 3 singles match against Tyler Mehrdad 7-6 (5), and the No. 3 doubles team of freshman Ninh Nguyen and junior Malik Thiaw came back from two breaks down to beat Doran Dubner and Louis Kunin 7-5.

Patel said that Thiaw will be a mainstay in the varsity doubles lineup after spending most of the year at the junior varsity level to ensure that he received match play.

Photo Gallery: Fountain Valley vs. Beverly Hills in boys’ tennis
Fountain Valley High coach Harshul Patel, left, gives Malik Thiaw a fist-bump during the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs against Beverly Hills at home on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley again ran the table in the second round to clinch the match against Beverly Hills (4-6).

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Senior Vivek Savsani and freshman Jared Nguyen swept at No. 1 doubles for the Barons, as did the No. 2 pairing of sophomore Kai Rodriguez and sophomore Nathan Dang.

The first-round match marked the first time that the right-handed Rodriguez and the left-handed Dang had played together all season. They chose to play with their forehands protecting against the out-wide serve.

Rodriguez feels fortunate to be part of a winning program, one that can find success with interchangeable parts.

“I feel very blessed,” Rodriguez said. “I’m thankful that I was able to join when I did last year to be a part of the first tennis team to win CIF.

“It’s all because of our head coach. He takes a lot of time out of his day to make sure that we’re prepared for our matches.”

Fountain Valley will play at Palomares League champion Claremont (17-1) in the second round on Friday. Claremont beat Palm Desert Xavier Prep 17-1 in its first-round match.

Last season, the Barons went largely unchallenged on their way to winning the Division 2 title. Their closest match came in the final against Temecula Great Oak, a match that the Barons won 11-7.

While the Barons won convincingly on Wednesday, Patel does not want his team to think that getting back to the finals will be an easy task.

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“This is Division 1,” Patel said. “There are so many good teams ahead. They’re just looking at only one match at a time.

“It was a great start today. The boys played amazing.”

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andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner


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