Sage in lead

NEWPORT BEACH — The match already had been rescheduled twice.

On Wednesday, Mother Nature intervened at The Tennis Club.

Rain forced the suspension of the Sage Hill School boys' tennis team's rivalry match against St. Margaret's. Sage was leading, 6-5, before the rain showers came.

Sage Hill Coach A.G. Longoria said the teams will finish their first Academy League meeting Tuesday, right before their second meeting at Rancho San Clemente Tennis & Fitness Club.

Sage Hill (7-11, 5-2 in league) realistically lost its league title hopes with Tuesday's loss at first-place Whitney, but the Lightning can still likely clinch second place by beating St. Margaret's (14-1, 6-1) twice.

The Lightning, the defending league and CIF Southern Section Division 3 champions who are ranked No. 4 in CIF, appear to be in good shape against No. 2 St. Margaret's. Junior Ryan Lee held a 5-3 singles lead against Marc Haddad of St. Margaret's in the final second-round set on court Wednesday. If Lee can finish it off, Sage will have a 7-5 advantage headed into the final round.

Longoria switched up his lineup from the Whitney match, putting Lee and Denis Cirit in singles and moving Cole Solaas and Sam Sherman to No. 3 doubles. It appeared to be working Wednesday, as Cirit won his first set and Solaas and Sherman won their first two doubles sets as well.

"We're still kind of trying out new doubles teams and different lineups," Lee said. "We kind of figured that St. Margaret's was pretty doubles-heavy, judging by their scores against Whitney and Crean [Lutheran]. We wanted to try a singles-heavy lineup, which basically just meant putting a doubles team into singles. So far, it's working, I would say."

Robbe Simon also won his first two singles sets. The match was tied 3-3 after the first round, after St. Margaret's duo of Brooks Robinson and Andrew Torok outlasted Sage's No. 1 doubles team of Alex Manolakas and Eric Magliarditi, 7-5.

Sage Hill still plays Brethren Christian on Friday before the two matches against St. Margaret's on Tuesday. Then comes the Academy League tournament, which begins Wednesday at The Tennis Club and promises to be tough.

"I'm really glad that it's competitive this year," Lee said. "Whitney, Crean, St. Margaret's and Sage — I like that kind of rivalry. It's nice that the coaches are kind of friends, you know. It's really good that we have this strong league. I think it challenges us to raise our game now, so we're more prepared for CIF."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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