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Sage Hill boys’ tennis falls to Palisades in Lightning Invitational title match

His teammates gathered in a circle around Palisades Charter High tennis senior Danilo Milic, lifting him above their heads and tossing him a bit in the air in celebration.

“I at first felt they couldn’t pick me up because I was too heavy,” Milic said. “It seems like I’m actually still light and need to gain more weight. I’m happy they could throw me up in the heavens.”

Palisades certainly had reason to be happy.

The Dolphins won the Lightning Invitational tournament Saturday afternoon, edging host Sage Hill 5-4 in the title match.

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Milic and Palisades’ Lincoln Bellamy earned tournament doubles MVP honors, while Sage Hill senior Emin Torlic was the singles MVP.

Milic and partner Atticus Parker won the decisive doubles set, rallying to beat Torlic and Brian Yu 3-4 (5-7), 4-1 and 7-0 in the third-set tiebreaker.

“After the first set, we talked to the coach and he told us to switch sides,” Milic said. “I was initially on the deuce side, then I was on the ‘ad’ side. I was handling the slice serve out wide a little bit better than my partner, so that was a big key.

“It means so much. This is my last team tournament for Pali, so it was amazing with these guys that supported me. I’m just really happy to help the team win.”

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The tournament final was played in three groups of three matches. Sage Hill led 2-1 early, as Torlic beat Bellamy 4-0, 4-3 (7-5) at No. 1 singles and Steven Ferry beat Milic 2-4, 4-1, 7-5 at No. 2 singles.

Rohun Krishnan, playing at No. 5 singles as Torlic said he nursed a calf injury, topped Palisades’ Noah Zaret 4-3 (8-6), 4-1. And Krishnan and Ferry beat Palisades’ Adam Glickman and Souma Hayakawa 4-3 (7-3), 4-0 at No. 1 doubles.

Torlic said after the match he was disappointed with Palisades’ sportsmanship at times.

“It just made us want to beat them more … some of them would talk while I was serving,” Torlic said. “Sometimes I’d have to look at them to be like, ‘Hey, don’t talk anymore.’ But they can be as loud as they want. That aside, they’re a really good team. They definitely were a bit more skilled than us, but all it came down to was just a few points here and there.”

Sage Hill has been dominating the San Joaquin League so far, winning each match by at least a score of 16-2 as the Lightning prepare for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

“I wish we had a tougher schedule, but I think we’re having a great season,” Torlic said. “It’s going to be our strongest year for a bit.”

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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