Road to title gets tough now

In the first two weeks of the 2011 CIF Southern Section boys' tennis playoffs, the Laguna Beach Breakers really hadn't been tested.

A one-sided win to start the postseason was followed by three more comfortable victories. That dominating play has vaulted Laguna into a CIF championship match. On Wednesday, the Breakers are sure to get their stiffest challenge yet when they challenge Viewpoint for the Division 4 title.

The match starts at 2:30 p.m. at Claremont Club in Claremont and it pits the top-ranked and defending champion Patriots against the second-ranked Breakers.

"The kids have a done great job to get to the championship," Laguna Coach Peter Davidson said. "I think there's a real excitement among this group and they're ready.

"I wouldn't say I'm surprised at getting to the championship match, but being my first year, I didn't know what to expect. One thing I do know about our team is that these kids are good. They've proven that."

Laguna hasn't really been tested in the postseason. The Breakers began their playoff run May 11 with a 17-1 rout of Orcutt Academy (Freelance) of Santa Maria. They then took care of Lynwood, the runner-up in the San Gabriel Valley League, 16-2, two days later. On May 17, they downed Alhambra (Almont No. 2), 14-4.

Laguna moved on to Wednesday's final by winning, 14-4, at Santa Ynez on Tuesday.

"It's hard to put my finger on it, but I think the reason we've been so dominant is that we've had the ability to pull out tough matches," Davidson said. "We've won a lot of close matches and against Santa Ynez, two of our doubles were down and our No. 3 team was even, at the break, but they all came back to win. That says a lot about our kids and their tenacity.

"We just have a really good lineup. There's no big hole. It's pretty solid. We have a lot of weapons on this team and we've been able to move kids around. I think Austin (Loomis), at No. 3 singles, is a darkhorse who has a lot of talent."

Viewpoint, a school with an enrollment of 475 tucked away in Calabasas, has been the division's top-ranked team throughout the regular season. In postseason play, the Liberty League champion Patriots also haven't been challenged. They easily defeated Paloma Valley (18-0), Costa Mesa (16-2), Paramount (17-1) and La Quinta/Westminster (15-3), to get to a second straight final.

Last year, Viewpoint defeated Laguna in the semifinals, then defeated Rowland in the title match.

Viewpoint is led by senior Bryce Beisswanger, who will play next year at Carnegie Mellon University. Patriots second-year Coach Travis Kikugawa called Beisswanger "our rock, our 'Mr. Everything.'"

However, Kikugawa hasn't played his starting nine in the first four rounds of the playoffs. He said he won't know what his starting lineup will be Wednesday until a day or so before the final.

"That's not to hold back any information, but that's how we've done it this year," Kikugawa said. "We have been fortunate enough to rely on our depth. We're similar to Laguna in that we both are able to rely on depth.

"We know the dynamics about Laguna, having played them last year. We know they have a great leader in Jake Michaels, they have very strong singles and doubles players and that Benito Romeo is now playing doubles instead of singles, as he did last year when we played them in CIF.

"I have a lot of respect for those guys and the tradition they have down there. Anytime you get to the end of the season and have the chance to play for something big, it's special. This should be a really great match."

Davidson knows what it's like to win a CIF championship in the sport. A four-year player at Laguna, he was on the school's 1980 team that won a Southern Section championship.

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