CdM loses ground

PALOS VERDES ESTATES — As a former world No. 1 looked on Tuesday, the Corona del Mar and Palos Verdes High boys' tennis teams battled for No. 2.

Two-time U.S. Open winner Tracy Austin has a son on the Palos Verdes team; Dylan plays doubles for PV. Austin made sure she spread around the love, voicing words of encourangement to all of the Palos Verdes players during the nonleague match.

Palos Verdes won seven singles sets and did enough in doubles to defeat CdM on games, 79-70, after the teams tied with nine sets apiece. Palos Verdes (11-0), ranked No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll, appears likely to take the No. 2 spot of CdM (13-3) when the new poll is released next week.

Both squads are named the Sea Kings, but that was really where the similarities stopped. Corona del Mar has a stronger doubles lineup. Last year in the Division I quarterfinals, CdM swept Palos Verdes in doubles to pull out an 11-7 victory.

Senior Carter Wheatley and junior Alex Murray swept Tuesday, like they had in that quarterfinal matchup last year.

"We knew their singles were going to be strong and because of that, we knew that we had to do well in doubles," Wheatley said. "We had to really come with our 'A' games, all three of our doubles teams."

But Palos Verdes does respond with three tough singles players. Senior Jeff Hawke swept his three sets, handing Georgetown-bound senior Shane Korber just his third loss of the year by winning, 6-4. Palos Verdes senior Erik Lim and freshman Jake Douglas won two of three, each losing to Korber.

As importantly, they took plenty of games. Three of the sets were 6-0 victories for Palos Verdes, and three more were 6-1.

The set score was tied, 3-3, after the first round but CdM was already down four games. The score was also tied, 6-6, after the second round but CdM was down seven games.

CdM needed Korber to defeat Douglas in the final round as well as a doubles sweep. Korber won, 6-3, and the doubles teams of Wheatley and Murray, as well as Zach Williams and Carson Williams, each pulled out victories.

But Palos Verdes' No. 1 doubles team of Chase Ruth and Tony Dellovade deafeted CdM's Ismaen Aboubakare and Alec Adamson, 6-3, to help all-but clinch the match for the hosts. It came despite a valiant effort by the CdM duo, which saved five set points with Palos Verdes serving for the set at 5-3.

Ruth and Dellovade got both of Palos Verdes' doubles sets victories, helping offset Korber's victories over Lim and Douglas.

Palos Verdes Coach Danny Moscovici said his team should keep the No. 2 seeding, especially if it can beat rival Peninsula on the road Tuesday. But Corona del Mar Coach Brian Ricker knows his squad has already achieved a huge goal, clinching second place in the Pacific Coast League. That means CdM will be on the opposite side of the draw from top-seeded defending champion University.

"That's our big bonus so far," Ricker said. "I think No. 2 through 7, everyone's about the same. Since so many of the teams are from the same leagues, and certain teams have to go on the opposite side of other teams, it's hard to figure out who you're going to play – who the quarterfinal matchup is going to be. They're all going to be hard quarterfinals, because everyone's pretty tough."

Ricker said sophomore Paul Kacik, a lefty, continues to make progress on his broken right wrist he suffered April 1. Ricker said he thought it would be too risky to put Kacik in Tuesday's varsity match, but he played in the JV match.

"He's actually hitting the ball really well," Ricker said. "The cast is small and his arm doesn't hurt at all anymore. He's just got to figure out how to hit a slice backhand return."

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