Boys' Tennis: Uni again has CdM's number

CLAREMONT — Rematches were standard on Friday at the inaugural CIF Southern California regional boys' tennis championships.

It was a case of déjà vu, exactly a week after teams met at The Claremont Club to decide the CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2 titles. Same location, same teams, both a bit more tired than before.

Top-seeded University High played No. 5 Corona del Mar in one regional semifinal, a rematch of the Division 1 title match won by Uni, 13-5. Third-seeded San Marino played No. 7 Palm Desert in the other semifinal, a rematch of the Division 2 title match won by San Marino by the same score.

In the case of Uni and CdM, the Sea Kings can be glad they won't see their rivals from five miles away again this year.

The format was different, but the results did not change the fourth time the Trojans and Sea Kings met this season. CdM's season ended after again losing to its Pacific Coast League nemesis, 7-0, in the format with four singles sets and three doubles sets.

"Uni really played well at all spots and just showed their depth," CdM Coach Jamie Gresh said. "I felt my guys competed hard. We had a good win against La Jolla, and to make the semis of this first-ever regional is a good accomplishment. I think everyone's a little bit tired, but I think everyone's still playing at a good level because we've been playing so much … Uni was just too strong at all those spots.

"I congratulate Coach [John] Kessler and that team because they're not just a strong team on the court, but just a great team sportsmanship-wise. It's always a good, friendly battle that we have with them, so I think that's probably the best part of our rivalry. Even though we've come out on the losing end four times this year, it's very high-class in terms of sportsmanship."

University, which won its fourth straight Division 1 title last week, is a match away from adding another notch to its ever-expanding belt. The Trojans will play San Marino in the SoCal regional final at 1 p.m. Saturday. San Marino edged Palm Desert, 4-3, in the other regional semifinal.

It was a tough way to end a successful season for CdM, which beat No. 4-seeded La Jolla, 5-2, in a regional quarterfinal earlier Friday.

Kessler said he believed his team's matchup against the Sea Kings should have been the championship match, not the semifinal.

"CdM is a great team," Kessler said. "The fact that we're not in the finals is ridiculous, the fact that they did the draw the way they did. The boys were exhausted. I thought the level of tennis was [just] fair. I know the level of Uni-CdM tennis, and today it was well below that. For the [CdM] season to end today, it's just kind of anticlimactic I think."

Uni overpowered CdM Friday, despite some close sets. Uni's Tyler Lu beat CdM's Chaz Downing, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7), at No. 2 singles. And Uni's Arash Hafezi and Eric Tseng edged CdM's Josh Kliger and Carson Williams, 6-1, 3-6, 10-5, at No. 1 doubles.

The Trojans' Gage Brymer beat Alec Adamson, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 1 singles. Stefan Menichella topped Bjorn Hoffmann, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 3 singles and Drew Dawson beat Ryan Andrews, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 4 singles.

Uni's Konrad Kozlowski and Garrett Kurtz beat CdM's Samee Aboubakare and Pedro Fernandez, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 2 doubles. Michael Chang and Arseni Yalouskikh beat Johnny Rhone and Tyler Gaede, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 3 doubles.

"I just feel for CdM, because I think CdM deserves a better fate than that, to be honest," Kessler said. "[CdM against San Marino] would have been a great match. That should have been the semifinal match. And then you watch Gage and Alec today, you're talking about kids who look like they're going to get hurt. They're exhausted, and that's when injuries come. Changes have to be made, for sure."

The Sea Kings advanced past La Jolla with a balanced effort. They won three singles sets. Adamson beat Jake Roberts, 6-3, 6-3, and Downing topped Ryan Rosen, 6-2, 6-3.

Hoffmann was edged by Marc Isaia, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 3-10, but Andrews eased past Ibrahim Akbar, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 4 singles.

All three doubles matches were close, but CdM took two of three. La Jolla's top team of Addison Appleby and Eric Klein defeated CdM's Kliger and Williams, 7-6 (4),6-4. But CdM seniors Paul Kacik and Andrew Nguyen edged Lawrence Rand and Nikola Nikolic, 6-4, 7-6 (4). And the No. 3 team of Aboubakare and Fernandez beat Sasha Kovacevic and Colton Kellogg, 7-5, 7-5.

Gresh categorized his first season at the helm at CdM as a very successful one.

"I think we had an awesome season," Gresh said. "Our guys played great. To make the [CIF Southern Section Division 1] final was our goal at the beginning of the year … just getting there was the battle, and we did that, with good wins over Harvard-Westlake and Mira Costa. I think we lived up to expectations. No regrets on the season.

"For me, personally, it was a really fun season with the guys. It's not really working, because it's what I love to do, but it was just a great situation with taking a winning team that was already here and continuing that tradition. And it was fun for the kids, and that's first and foremost."

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