La Cañada boys’ tennis stumbles against rival San Marino

SAN MARINO — Any chance the La Cañada High boys’ tennis team had in gaining a split of the Rio Hondo League championship rested on its match against rival San Marino on Friday.

The Spartans came in trailing the Titans, who have dominated the league for three decades, by one match.

Things slipped away quickly for La Cañada, which fell behind early and couldn’t regroup in suffering a 14-4 road defeat.

La Cañada (8-2, 4-2 in league) will finish second in league behind San Marino (7-0 in league). San Marino, which posted a 16-2 win at La Cañada on March 27, wrapped up its 32nd straight league championship. La Cañada last won a league crown in 1987 before San Marino embarked on its impressive run.

“Today’s result was about what I expected,” said La Cañada coach Will Moravec, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Tennis Coach of the Year. “You think you’d have a shot at it after San Marino graduated a lot of its top players from last season and yet so did we. You think coming in that you have a chance to beat them.

“So, now we are locked into second place and we’ll look to finish up strong in league and at the league tournament and also try to stay healthy.”

The Spartans, who dropped a pair of 10-8 losses to the Titans last season, competed without No. 1 singles player Ryan Morgan. Morgan, who won the league’s singles championship last season en route to being tabbed the All-Area Boys’ Singles Player of the Year, participated in a junior tournament.

San Marino built a 5-1 lead after the first round and took a 10-2 lead heading into the third round.

La Cañada received two wins in doubles from sophomores Ben Lee and Jack Manion, 6-2, 6-2. It also got a doubles victory from Jared and Derek Ahn, 7-6 (7-5) and a win in singles from Kyle Daniels, 6-2.

Lee and Manion won their first two sets to provide a bright spot for the Spartans.

“San Marino has dominated league for so long, so it’s big for us to get these two wins,” Lee said. “I think things went real well, especially in the first set, and we just seemed to click.”

Said Manion: “We started out well with our returns and I think were able to do a good job at staying aggressive. We’ve been doing well so far.”

San Marino won eight sets in singles.

The Titans got three victories from Brandon Hang, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, and two apiece from Aiden Paek, 6-0, 6-0, and Zihao Wang, 6-2, 6-1, and one from Ethan Foong, 6-1.

Austin Han and Auberon Lai picked up three wins for San Marino in doubles, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The Titans also got victories from Alex Ko and Tyler Tseng, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1), and Scott Chen and Kyle Lee, 6-3.

La Cañada will finish the regular season with league matches at South Pasadena on Tuesday and at home against Monrovia on Thursday.

The league tournament will take place April 22-23 at Live Oak Park in Temple City.

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich