Sage is perfect in league

SAN CLEMENTE — The St. Margaret's boys' tennis team stacked its doubles lineup Wednesday afternoon.

Sage Hill shrugged it off. The Lightning are just stacked.

The Academy League match at Rancho San Clemente Tennis and Fitness Club was probably closer than the 12-6 final score would indicate, but Sage Hill will definitely take the win over its rival.

It finishes off a perfect league season for Sage Hill (16-5, 10-0 in league), which won the second league title — and first outright crown — in program history.

"I think [stacking doubles] was a more effective lineup to get close to us," Lightning senior Andrew Kurzweil said. "But I think we're a really strong team this year. We have a good chance to go all the way … I'm really sad that the run's over, that I don't have any more Academy League matches. At least we went out on top. We couldn't have had a better season, and it's not over yet."

Everyone contributed for the Lightning, who won eight of nine singles sets. Junior Robbe Simon and Kurzweil swept in the top two spots, and junior Denis Cirit won two of his three sets.

Each doubles team also won at least one set, and the No. 1 team of senior Kevin Marshack and junior Alex Manolakas won twice. It was a 7-5 victory by the No. 3 team of Nasier Emtiaz and Ryan Lee that gave the Lightning a 4-2 sets lead after the first round. After Kurzweil outlasted Michael Friedman of St. Margaret's, 7-6 (8-6 in the tiebreaker) in the second round, the Lightning had a 7-5 sets advantage.

St. Margaret's (16-5, 5-3 in league) played Friedman at No. 3 singles, though he's really the Tartans' top singles player. He staved off six match points against Kurzweil serving at 4-5, eventually forcing the tiebreaker. But Kurzweil stormed back from a 6-3 deficit in the 'breaker, winning the last five points.

Simon's mother, Roxane, watched a bit impatiently. Her son still had to play Friedman in the third round and the Simons, along with the doubles team of Kurzweil and Manolakas, still had to travel to Ojai after the match for the CIF portion of the 111th annual Ojai Valley Tournament.

Robbe eased his mother's mind, making the last set quick. The score was the same as the first two, 6-0. He said it was his first "triple-bagel" since he's been at Sage Hill.

"It felt pretty good doing it against our rivals, in the last match of the season," Simon said. "Last year we lost to them here by one game. It's really sweet to beat them here, and it's the first time I've ever won Academy League with these guys. I could just feel the enthusiasm, and I feel like we have a great chance during CIF. That's really exciting to me, more than just winning this match."

The Lightning finished strong against St. Margaret's. They won five of the six sets in the last round, capped by the last victory by Sean Batten and Eric Magliarditi at No. 2 doubles.

After the match, they stayed on an adjacent court to take some team pictures.

Sage Hill Coach A.G. Longoria said his team can begin to focus on the CIF playoffs, which begin in two weeks.

The Lightning are ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division III coaches' poll.

"I really hope that we [win CIF]," Longoria said. "It'd be the first boys' sport at Sage to win a CIF championship. I think when we lost that match in the [Division IV] semifinals last year … three or four of these guys said the commitment was to go all the way."

St. Margaret's freshman Alastair Hurry, a Corona del Mar resident, swept his three doubles sets with partner Alex Ramadan.

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