George Vo is the only member of the Huntington Beach High boys’ tennis team with any playoff experience.
Two years ago, Vo was a freshman starter on the Oilers team that finished third in the Sunset League and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Huntington Beach got a tough draw, losing 14-4 in the first round at No. 3-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula, which went on the win the title.
Oilers coach Josh Anderson said that 2016 team is the only one that has advanced to the postseason in his 10 years in charge. Vo definitely wants a second shot at it; this year would be in Division 2. Huntington Beach can get there with another top-three finish in league.
“It would mean a lot,” Vo said. “Playing in CIF as a freshman who didn’t know much, it was pretty awesome seeing all of these people that were so good. I really want to get back there and show that we didn’t get there on a fluke last time.”
Vo and doubles partner Jon Gottschalk helped Huntington Beach inch closer on Thursday, winning the clinching set as the host Oilers beat Edison 10-8 in a league match.
Halfway through its league schedule, Huntington Beach (5-6, 3-2 in league) took sole possession of third place after Newport Harbor lost 12-6 to Los Alamitos and fell to 2-3 in league on Thursday. Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley are tied for first at 4-0.
The Oilers, who finished fourth in league last year, got all they could handle from Edison (3-8, 0-4). The Chargers actually won more games in the match 81-80, but Vo and Gottschalk won the clinching 10th set. The two juniors, who swept, rallied for a 6-4 win over Edison’s Jack Horton and Roshan Swaroop.
Horton and Swaroop had held a 3-1 lead in the set.
“They had broken a lot of our serves just off of our mistakes,” said Gottschalk, a lefty who served the match out. “Once we kind of stabilized, I think we were able to just work our way back up and win the set.”
Huntington Beach has no seniors this year. Sophomore Tanner Harris and freshman Cole Hazard came up with two big set wins on Thursday, 7-5 in the first round over Horton and Nick Beebe and 6-4 in the third round over Edison’s No. 1 team of Blake Hepburn and Matthew Bullette.
Sandwiched in between those wins was a 6-0 loss to Edison’s Ryan Lum and Logan Sherouse, who won twice. But Harris and Hazard came back strong in the third round.
“They were coming off an 0-6 [set], so we were a little afraid that they were going to be just a little bit off the rocker when they went up against [Edison’s No. 1 team],” Gottschalk said. “They really pulled through, which was awesome.”
Sophomores Rohan Gupta and Daniel Izmirian both won twice in singles for Huntington Beach, which plays at Newport Harbor on Tuesday.
Freshman Jason You swept in singles for the Chargers, who forged a 6-6 tie after two rounds. Edison coach Dave Lemons also highlighted the play of junior Kainoa Nagao and senior Austin Meyer, who each won once. Nagao and Meyer were moved to singles and Lum played doubles as Lemons said the Chargers, searching for their first league win, tried to stack their doubles lineup.
“Sunset League is very, very tough,” said Lemons, whose team hosts Marina on Tuesday. “We’re close. They came out today ready to play. It was probably the most competitive and most [into] a match that I’ve seen my team all year … It was cool to see.”