Sage Hill boys’ tennis wins season opener at Santa Margarita

The Sage Hill School boys’ tennis team began its season Wednesday with virtually the same lineup as last year, even if the Adam was different.

The Lightning lost one starter, senior No. 1 singles player Adam Langevin, to graduation. But they have a promising young freshman in Adam Hung, the younger brother of Sage Hill girls’ tennis standout Michelle Hung.

As for the eight returning starters, they are hungry to show they belong as they debut in CIF Southern Section Division 1. They showed it in a 13-5 nonleague win at Santa Margarita.

“Everyone’s a year older,” second-year Lightning coach Zoran Korac said. “They’re taller. They’re more experienced. They’re more mature.”

Sage Hill, the defending Academy League champion, is in Division 1 for the first time in program history after advancing to the Division 2 semifinals last season. The Lightning may have graduated Langevin, the league singles champion who advanced to the CIF Individuals singles round of 16, but they return players like sophomore Rohun Krishnan and junior Emin Torlic.

Both swept in singles Wednesday, although neither played at the No. 1 spot. Krishnan rallied from a 3-1 deficit at No. 2 singles in his opening set to pick up a 6-4 win over Santa Margarita’s Tommy Day.

Torlic swept rather easily at No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

“They wanted to warm up,” Korac said of having neither player compete at No. 1. “Even though these guys are experienced tournament players, you’re coming out and playing for your school, having your first match. They had a little bit of jitters, which is completely normal.”

Steven Ferry, a junior, swept at No. 3 doubles for Sage Hill. Ferry won twice with Hung before capturing the final set with partner Adam Bergan.

Ian Huang, Sage Hill’s only senior starter, lost in a No. 1 doubles tiebreaker to the Eagles’ Derek Williams and Brendon Schwartz in his first set with partner Jerry Fu. Korac then subbed out Fu for sophomore Matthew Strok, who won twice with Huang after that.

Korac said that Strok expressed a desire to crack the lineup and play doubles.

“That’s what I want,” Korac said. “I want my kids to step up and be hungry and motivated to get out there and play.”

Santa Margarita, the six-time defending Trinity League champion, got two wins from Williams and Schwartz at No. 1 doubles. The Eagles (1-2) were tied at 3-3 after the first round, but the Lightning won 10 of the final 12 sets played.

Sophomore Brian Yu won once in singles for Sage Hill, while juniors Robert Gerschultz and Ryan Ha won twice in doubles.

Torlic said he feels like the Lightning are at least as good as last year, and he is eager to compete in the Division 1 playoffs.

“I know most of the players on each of the CIF Division 1 teams,” Torlic said. “I think it’ll be pretty fun to see who I play against, see familiar faces.”

Sage Hill plays at a fellow Division 1 team, Palos Verdes, in its next nonleague match Tuesday. Korac said this weekend’s four-team Prep Classic, which Sage Hill was scheduled to host, has been canceled due to rain in the forecast.

Korac’s alma mater of San Marino, as well as Corona del Mar and Northwood, are other Division 1 teams on the nonleague schedule for the Lightning.

“I’ve been prepping for [the move to Division 1],” Korac said. “My philosophy is to go in and play people that are better than you. Don’t be afraid to lose … We’re going to do the best we can in Division 1 and we’ll see how it goes.”

Twitter: @mjszabo