Fountain Valley High’s Justin Nguyen follows through with a forearm shot during a No. 1 singles set against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League match on Tuesday, April 17.(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Fountain Valley High’s Nathan Dang competes during a No. 2 singles set against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League match on Tuesday, April 17.(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Fountain Valley High’s Ryan Trinh returns a volley during a No. 3 singles set against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League match on Tuesday, April 17.(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Fountain Valley High’s Tommy Trinh competes during a No. 1 doubles set against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League match on Tuesday, April 17.(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Fountain Valley High’s Justin Pham competes during a No. 1 doubles set against Los Alamitos in a Sunset League match on Tuesday, April 17.(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Harshul Patel is in his eighth season as head coach of the Fountain Valley High boys’ and girls’ tennis teams.
One thing the Barons haven’t done in his tenure is win an outright Sunset League title. The boys shared the league title with Los Alamitos in 2014.
The Griffins, who have won three straight outright league titles since then, have been the gold standard in the league. But that might change this year.
Fountain Valley earned a convincing 13-5 victory over Los Alamitos at home on Tuesday, taking over outright first place in league. The Barons snapped Los Alamitos’ 38-match league winning streak.
Fountain Valley was also the last team to beat the Griffins in league, earning a 10-8 win on April 21, 2014.
“This is massive,” Patel said. “It’s really a good win for us. Finally, you know? I won’t say we deserve [it], but we’re here and we work hard. It’s well-earned.”
The Barons (10-3, 5-0 in league) swept all nine doubles sets against the Griffins (7-4, 4-1). The teams of seniors Tommy Trinh and Justin Pham, junior Vivek Savsani and senior Brandon Keller, as well as senior Eric Tadros and freshman Kai Rodriguez, all won three times.
Patel said his doubles teams are all undefeated in league play, going a combined 45-0.
“We’ve been there in the past, where we were the weaker side,” he said. “When we played against CdM [in a 14-4 loss on March 6], those doubles teams are a little bit better than us, and that’s why they have the edge. But then when you’re playing against a different level of team, we’re going to have the edge … We learn from those [losses]. We’ve been there many, many times, and that’s where the practices and our preseason schedule come in for us.”
Junior Justin Nguyen and sophomore Ryan Trinh both won twice in singles for Fountain Valley, ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 2.
Fountain Valley earned two tight doubles wins in the first round for a 4-2 advantage. Savsani and Keller beat Los Alamitos’ Dante Mendez and Myles Raymundo 6-4 at No. 2 doubles, while Tadros and Rodriguez beat Dante Badia and Brian Loh by the same score at No. 3 doubles.
The Barons then pulled away, winning five sets in the second round for a commanding 9-3 lead.
“We all came in with a different fire in our eyes,” Savsani said. “[The Griffins], it’s just a different match with them. We look at them as a better team every time we play them, so we come in with a different mentality. [Los Alamitos] is a really good team so we’ve got to be prepared. I think we prepped more for them.”
Colter Smith, a junior, easily swept at No. 1 singles for Los Alamitos. The Griffins also got two more singles wins against Fountain Valley freshman Nathan Dang, a junior varsity call-up who replaced usual starter Ben Nguyen, also a freshman, who Patel said was out with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Those were the only sets that Los Alamitos could win. The good news for coach Brian Collison is that the teams play again Friday at Los Alamitos, a makeup match after the league opener March 22 was postponed due to rain.
“The doubles is where we’re going to make some changes, obviously, for Friday,” Collison said. “I can’t let this happen again.”
Fountain Valley, which first plays host to Newport Harbor on Thursday, will be looking for a repeat performance.
“We’re waiting for that [match],” said Tadros, the Barons’ team captain. “We’re ready. [Today was] a confidence booster for all of us.”