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On the beat tennis: West Ranch and Valencia still have high hopes

Posted: May 15, 2014 9:39 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2014 9:39 p.m.
 

The two remaining Foothill League teams in the CIF-Southern Section Division II Boys Tennis Championships caught a bit of a break on Thursday.

Both West Ranch and Valencia will have home matches in today’s second round.

West Ranch, the Foothill League champ, will be facing off against the Ocean League second-place finisher Santa Monica High at 3 p.m. today.

The Vikings defeated Camarillo High, the No. 2 team from the Pacific View League, 13-5 in their first-round match and were ranked the No. 10 team in the final CIF-SS Division II coaches’ poll that was released on May 12.

But West Ranch is as ready as it will ever be.

The Wildcats, ranked as the No. 8 team in Division II, were the best all-around team in league play and have shown numerous times that they can manipulate their lineups to create advantageous matchups.

The emergence of freshman standout Noah Morrow has given West Ranch a lot of that flexibility.

Morrow was part of West Ranch’s Foothill League doubles championship team along with Chris Gaw. For these playoffs, however, he is back playing singles. And playing well.

He was the only singles player for the Wildcats to sweep his sets (6-4, 6-2, 6-1) in their first-round match against St. Margaret’s on Wednesday.

Last year, West Ranch was blown out of the first round by Rowland High, losing the match 17-1.

This year’s squad looks primed to make a deeper run in the postseason.

For Valencia, the Vikings will have to go through Century League champ Foothill High of Santa Ana to make a return trip to the quarterfinals.

Foothill, ranked No. 7 in Division II, defeated Sage Hill High 11-7 in the first round.

The Vikings have their work cut out for them as their 10-8 win over Claremont on Wednesday was the closest margin of victory of all the first round matches.

Their singles lineup has been pretty solid, but its been on the doubles side where the Vikings have struggled.

But they came through in the clutch on Wednesday, winning all three of their sets in the third round to edge out the win.

Valencia needs those teams to show up in today’s match, which starts at 12:30 p.m. at Valencia.

Viking mentality: Speaking of the Vikings, it wouldn’t be a boys tennis notebook without some mention of Chad LeDuff.

Ever since his loss to Golden Valley’s Brandon Yu, LeDuff has gotten back to torching his way through opponents.

He swept his sets on Wednesday (6-3, 6-1, 6-0) and is as sure a bet as there is in high school tennis to get three points a match for his team.

Along with the doubles lineup, it was LeDuff’s victory in the third round of sets against Claremont that pushed the Vikings over the top.

His steady presence at the top of Valencia’s singles lineup can’t be overlooked as they try to move on in the postseason.

First-round exits: Golden Valley made its second consecutive first-round exit from the postseason on Wednesday with its 14-4 loss to Polytechnic School of Pasadena.

The Grizzlies might have a tough time trying to improve on this performance next year, however. They will be losing eight seniors this offseason and, outside of Brandon Yu, don’t have any standout players returning.

Hart, coming off its impressive 17-1 win over Buena Park in the wild-card round, couldn’t keep that momentum up against Windward in the 11-7 loss.

The Indians fell short of matching last year’s second round appearance and with seniors Elliot Miller and Michael Lange and Luke Distad graduating, Hart will have some holes to fill.

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