Sea Kings storm into semis

CORONA DEL MAR — After his team won the first six sets Tuesday, Corona del Mar High boys' tennis coach Brian Ricker called it the best round his team has played all year.

The Sea Kings did not stop there in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal match. They put together one of their best efforts of the season to thump visiting Calabasas, 16-2, at CdM.

"I think maybe the boys were getting a little flat because of too many easy wins, but then they came in fired up for this one," Ricker said. "I thought they really responded well to this challenge, because this was a good team. They had good players. That score is not indicative of how the match was played."

For the No. 2-seeded Sea Kings, the match was played well. They'll need a similar effort May 22 as they will be on the road against No. 3-seeded Harvard-Westlake in a CIF semifinal match.

Harvard-Westlake is the team that ended CdM's season last year in the CIF quarterfinals.

This year, the Sea Kings (20-3) are on the verge of making their first CIF championship match appearance since winning the title in 2003. They come into the semifinals on a high note.

Calabasas (20-2) lost to Harvard-Westlake in its first match of the season, 10-8, before reeling off 20 straight wins. But CdM had the answers Tuesday against the Marmonte League champions, particularly on the bigger points.

"They had the edge on us," Calabasas Coach Kim Kinberg said. "Our league is not as competitive as their league ... and because we're located further [north] geographically, it's hard to travel far for a lot of competitive matches. That would make a big difference in converting those big points when you're playing good players.

"[Ricker] didn't have any holes or weaknesses in his lineup, like a weak player that you could try to pick on. Especially in doubles, you try to pick on the weaker player. His teams are very even across the board, and they make very few unforced errors."

CdM swept the nine doubles sets. The teams of Alex Murray and Chaz Downing, as well as Paul Kacik and Andrew Nguyen, both won three sets. Seniors Zach Williams and Dan Anastos won twice, including one in a tiebreaker. They were then subbed out for Josh Kliger and Tyler Gaede, who also won a tiebreaker set.

Freshman Henry Gordon swept at No. 1 singles for CdM. Junior Alec Adamson and sophomore Carson Williams each won two of three sets, as Calabasas' Jake Klein and Max Swerdlick were able to win a single set each.

"We just brought it in a big match," Williams said. "I was just stoked that our team all put it together. Everyone was competing so well."

Some teams during the playoffs have to concoct ways to try to win nine sets, counting on sweeps from some players or teams and important close wins from others. Ricker doesn't have that problem in most matches.

"We don't know who's going to sweep, and anyone can sweep," he said. "Depth is definitely our strength. It's very nice to have depth in the singles and doubles."

The Sea Kings have played Harvard-Westlake once before this season, losing to the Wolverines, 10-8. But the result was relatively meaningless since both teams were missing multiple players in that match.

Anastos said CdM can be at its most confident heading into the playoff rematch.

"This was definitely good preparation for Harvard-Westlake," Anastos said. "I think we've really hitting our stride at the right time."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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