NORTHEAST GLENDALE — William Dixon knew the Flintridge Prep boys' tennis team's Prep League match against Pasadena Poly on Tuesday would come down to how well he performed in his final set, but the Rebels' No. 3 singles player had no idea that as soon as he had won a second game he had come through in the clutch.
As he walked off the court at Scholl Canyon Tennis Center, his teammates made sure he knew, however, as the Rebels lined up to congratulate Dixon on clinching a 9-9 (68-65) tiebreaker win over the archrival Panthers that kept Prep firmly entrenched in second place in league.
"When I'm down, 5-0, I'm not conscious about hitting everything in, so I go for my shots and fortunately it worked today," said Dixon, who dropped the first five games of his set against Poly's AJ Singh, in which he needed to win at least two games for the Rebels to prevail, before winning three straight to eventually lose, 6-3. "I had no idea [I had won it at 5-2], which I prefer, because it's too much pressure for me."
The match was all squared up at 6 after the first two rounds before Poly pulled ahead, 8-7. With Prep No. 1 singles Alex Wood points away from posting a 6-0 win over Poly No. 2 Matt Rossi and Dixon still yet to win a game late in his set against Singh, it became clear that Prep's No. 2 doubles David Chou and Albert Lee would have to defeat Poly No. 3 doubles Sahil Shah and Will Clary in their final match of the day just to force a tiebreaker.
Chou and Lee took care of business on their end, winning, 6-2, and Wood completed the sweep of Rossi, putting all eyes on Dixon and Singh.
"When [Dixon] was down, 5-0, I told him, 'You need to get as many games as you can, it's coming down to a game count,'" Prep Coach Ron Catano said. "He had been playing really bad and that just helped him focus more."
Wood was one of the few Rebels to have an easy day across the board, sweeping, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0, and his keeping Rossi from winning any games proved to be just as important down the stretch as Dixon's ability to rally for a couple wins.
"He knew he had to [sweep], he couldn't let any games get by," Catano said of Wood.
But, overall, the Rebels (5-7, 3-1 in league) struggled to post wins against a Poly team (5-9, 1-3) they had beaten, 12-6, on April 8.
"We just lost too many matches," said Catano, who got a sweep from Chou and Lee and two doubles wins from Kent Byun and Eric Kazangian in the No. 1 slot. "Too many players just not playing well under pressure, I don't quite understand what's going on with most of the guys not stepping up and winning matches that are easy wins for them."