CdM tops Sage

CORONA DEL MAR — It has never rained on the Corona del Mar All-American Invitational Tournament.

CdM boys' tennis coach Brian Ricker said Tim Mang, the longtime CdM coach and All-American Tournament director, likes to brag about that fact.

Mother Nature doesn't appear so kind for the 13th year of the two-day tournament. Rain is expected Saturday, so Mang moved up CdM's first-round match against Sage Hill.

The two schools started the prestigious tournament Thursday, a day early. It didn't bother Ricker, who found out about the plans at 1 p.m., less than three hours before the rescheduled match time.

"I try not to be the complainer, ever," Ricker said. "I know how hard that can be on the tournament director. They're doing their best. When [Mang] wanted to do this, I said, 'OK, we'll get it done.'"

The Sea Kings got it done on the court, too, earning a 6-2 victory over the Lightning to advance to the tournament quarterfinals.

No. 3-seeded Torrey Pines and Santa Barbara will play their first-round match at 8 a.m. Friday at Costa Mesa Tennis Center. Unseeded CdM will play the winner at 10:30 a.m. at the same venue, while Sage will face the loser in the consolation bracket.

Most teams are now scheduled to play their first three matches of the 16-team tournament on Friday. That would leave only the final round to be completed on Saturday.

CdM and Sage Hill played Thursday's match with five singles sets followed by three doubles sets. All sets were eight-game pro-sets.

Ricker saw his team come out strong in singles. Henry Gordon, Chaz Downing and Carson Williams all won their singles sets by 8-0 scores. Josh Kliger also earned an 8-4 win at No. 5 singles.

The lone singles win for Sage came from senior Robbe Simon, who outlasted CdM junior Alec Adamson, 8-6, in a high-quality No. 1 singles set. Simon rallied from a 4-1 deficit to claim the set.

With Adamson serving at 5-6, Simon also won an incredible point featuring several lob shots. He took the point on — what else — a lob.

"I lobbed him off his lob, then I came in and he lobbed me," Simon said. "Then I won the point off a lob. There was some ridiculous amount of lobs in that point. When I won that, it was a big relief. I ended up losing that game, but I think it just really helped for confidence. Pretty fun."

Sage teammate Alex Manolakas, watching the match, called it the point of the year. Simon also teamed with Manolakas to earn the Lightning's lone doubles win, as they defeated CdM seniors Alex Murray and Dan Anastos, 8-3. But CdM's No. 2 team of Paul Kacik and Andrew Nguyen (8-2), as well as the No. 3 team of Zach Williams and Tyler Gaede (8-0), both won easily.

"That was perfect," Ricker said. "All of the starters got to play."

Simon said being in the All-American Tournament is an honor for the Lightning. Sage is the defending CIF Southern Section Division 3 champion and is again top-ranked in the division, but this is the program's first-ever appearance in the tournament.

"It's definitely eye-opening," Simon said. "I think we take it for granted that we're pretty good in Division 3, and then to come here, it's humbling actually. It's great for these guys. I think it makes them want to work harder, at least it makes me want to work harder when I play people like this. I think it's great."

CdM will need a great effort to win its quarterfinal match Friday morning, most likely against Torrey Pines. The San Diego Section powerhouse features three players — J.P. Boyd, UC Santa Barbara-bound Jacob Johnson and Adam Levie — ranked in the top 100 in Southern California in the 18s.

The Sea Kings have not advanced to the semifinals of their host tournament since 2006. Ricker believes it is possible this year.

"They're deep," Ricker said of Torrey Pines. "I think we have a chance. We have to play our best."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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