Boys' Tennis: CdM not the one

IRVINE — John Kessler called himself "a big history buff," so it's understandable why the University High boys' tennis coach went into Thursday's Pacific Coast League match against rival Corona del Mar a bit apprehensive.

Kessler said CdM was the last Orange County team to beat University in a dual match, in 2006. In that match, Kessler said his team was short-handed.

Fast forward seven years, and the Trojans were again not at full strength Thursday. Two of their top three players, UCLA-bound senior Gage Brymer and Yale-bound senior Tyler Lu, are playing at the prestigious Easter Bowl tournament in Rancho Mirage.

"The streak has got to end at some point," said Kessler, who teaches AP U.S. History at University. "To me, it's kind of apropos if it was to CdM."

Not on this day. University, the three-time defending champion CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion, was once again simply too strong.

The Trojans won seven of nine doubles sets and cruised, 13-5, at home. They won their 76th straight match, dating to 2009. They appear to be on the way to their seventh straight outright Pacific Coast League title.

It was once again a matchup of the top two teams in Division 1. Nobody else looks close. Consider that CdM beat No. 3 Palos Verdes, 14-4, and No. 4 Los Alamitos, 16-2, earlier this season.

The Trojans (11-0, 6-0 in league) and Sea Kings (13-2, 4-2) should meet in the Division 1 final at The Claremont Club for the second straight year.

"See you in the finals," Kessler said to CdM Coach Jamie Gresh as the Sea Kings left the courts at Uni early Thursday evening. "Make sure you get there."

Corona del Mar, which lost to University, 15-3, in the teams' league opener March 19, also was down a player in the rematch. CdM sophomore Chaz Downing also is playing at the Easter Bowl.

Regardless, UC Davis-bound senior Alec Adamson certainly elevated his game.

Adamson swept at No. 1 singles. He beat Pepperdine-bound Uni senior Stefan Menichella, 6-2, then came back to top junior Drew Dawson, 6-1, and freshman Jae Min, 6-0. It was a much different story than the teams' first meeting, when Brymer, Lu and Menichella handed Adamson his only three losses of the season. He is now 40-3.

Former CdM boys' head coach Brian Ricker said in a text message that this was the first time that CdM has beaten Menichella, ranked No. 10 in the Southern California boys' 18s, in singles. Adamson is ranked No. 13 in Southern California.

Menichella and Adamson could potentially meet again in Sunday's championship match of the Harper Ink Junior Open tournament in San Diego. They're the top two seeds and are in the quarterfinals Saturday.

Adamson got an early break of serve Thursday against Menichella and did not let up.

"I was really happy with the way I played today," Adamson said. "It definitely feels better to get some wins this time. All three of the players I played [today] are all tournament players, so I just played well and took it to them. I was happy with the way I responded from the last match against Uni."

CdM's top doubles team of Josh Kliger and Carson Williams also won in the first round. But the Sea Kings missed a chance to force a 3-3 tie after the first round. Seniors Paul Kacik and Andrew Nguyen had the best chance at No. 2 doubles, but Uni sophomore Konrad Kozlowski and freshman Garrett Kurtz won the last four games to claim a 6-3 victory.

Kozlowski and Kurtz swept in doubles for the Trojans. Dawson and Min each won twice in singles, as did University's No. 1 doubles team of Billy Lee and Arseni Yalouskikh.

"I knew for sure Alec was going to have a great day," Kessler said. "I actually would have liked Gage and Tyler to be here, because I knew Alec was coming out on fire today. That is absolutely not shocking at all, just given what happened last time and how well he's done. I am a little bit surprised at doubles, that we won seven out of nine ... I'm proud of the guys stepping up without Tyler and Gage. Besides Stef, it's kind of a little preview to next year [for us]."

Uni won two contested sets in the second round to earn a 9-3 sets lead. First Menichella held off CdM freshman Pedro Fernandez, 6-4. Then, in the longest set of the match, Uni's No. 3 doubles team of Arash Hafezi and Eric Tseng outlasted Kacik and Nguyen, 7-5.

"If we would have won those it could have been a completely different match, but I thought that the team definitely fought hard," Adamson said. "We didn't really win the big sets, but everyone played well today, so that was good to see."

Gresh agreed. He saw the Sea Kings continue to progress, and he said matches against University are ultimately beneficial.

"Obviously, they're so deep," Gresh said. "We get better just from playing this match, no matter who they have out here ... If we could play them once a week, we would. So to get to play them twice a year, it's great. We're hoping to play them a third time, later on down the road. That's the goal, to get to them a third time. If we do that, then we've had a fantastic season and we'll take it from there once we get there."

CdM plays host to Irvine on Thursday.

Twitter: @mjszabo

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