CLAREMONT — Flintridge Prep boys’ tennis second-year coach Roger Hollomand showed slight signs of nerves and trepidation as he constantly clicked his pen and paced back-and-forth between courts as his team battled in the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship match against No. 1 seed Maranatha.
But as he later lifted the golden plaque that donned the word “champions,” Hollomand puffed out his cheeks and exhaled a sigh of relief.
In its first-ever title match, No. 3 Flintridge Prep defeated Maranatha, 10-8, backed by a strong singles performance to capture the program’s first title at the Claremont Club on Friday.
“It’s kind of unreal at this moment given our young talent,” Hollomand said. “I didn’t expect to really get here, and much less win it. The stars were aligned and everything kind of worked out in our favor.
“We had a great bracket in this tournament and this was a great challenge for us playing Maranatha, especially revisiting them again. How often do you get to play the team you played earlier in the season in the final of the CIF tournament, if ever?”
Flintridge Prep (12-5; third in Liberty League) reached the championship match with wins against California Math and Science Academy, Jurupa Valley, Segerstrom and No. 2 Bishop Montgomery. Maranatha (22-3) blanked Flintridge Prep, 18-0, in a nonleague match on March 14, without a number of Rebels starters.
The Rebels are the first area team to win a boys’ tennis title since Hoover High captured a Division I championship in 2002.
With Hollomand’s experienced players injected into the lineup for the final, Flintridge Prep was able to record seven wins in singles and three in doubles.
Rebels No. 1 singles player Gillis Linde won all three of his sets, with a 6-1 victory in the first round followed by a tight, 6-4 win in the second. He won his final set after Maranatha No. 2 singles player Daniel Guan retired due to injury.
“It was definitely a big team effort,” Linde said. “I really want to say thanks to the whole team, of course, for bringing a great season. Doubles definitely put in work, too. It was pretty great.
“I was definitely nervous in the beginning. All of us out here were pretty nervous, but it’s just really great to be out here and have fun. I just kept that in mind and I just pushed through. I just had fun and did what I could and it worked out.”
Flintridge Prep No. 2 singles Andrew Megerdichian also swept, winning his sets by 6-1 scores. His final victory against Maranatha No. 1 singles Nico Engling sealed the title.
“We just kind of came in with a fighting mentality,” Megerdichian said. “We just told ourselves we’re going to do what we’ve been doing this entire run at CIF. That was the mentality of the whole team going in.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous because it was the finals and everything. After the second one, I found my pace and my momentum and it just continued for the rest of the match.”
Flintridge Prep No. 3 singles Derek Tran also came out victorious against Engling with a crucial 6-2 win in the second round to give the Rebels a 7-5 lead.
Rebels No. 1 doubles William Lanstra and Loran Baxter defeated Maranatha’s No. 2 pair Jake Scott and Billy Tan, 6-3, and bested the Minutemens’ No. 3 duo Kenny Cho and Timothy Huang, 6-3.
Rebels freshman pair and No. 3 doubles Neel Sadda and Leon Liao also defeated Cho and Huang, 6-4.