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Valencia tennis bows out in playoffs

Posted: May 16, 2014 9:22 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2014 9:22 p.m.

An up-and-down season for the Valencia Vikings boys tennis team finished with an up-and-down day.

But despite making a late charge in Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division II second-round playoff match, Valencia fell short 11-7 to Foothill High of Santa Ana on a hot and gusty day at Valencia High School.

The Century League champion Foothill Knights (18-4) were ahead 5-1 after the first round and they built a 9-3 lead at the end of two rounds of play.

By that point, it was too big of a deficit to overcome for the Vikings, who were denied a ninth straight Foothill League title this year after losing out to West Ranch.

But although Valencia settled for second place in league, they still nearly pulled off a second straight trip to the CIF quarterfinals.

“I think they were just more aggressive than us,” said Valencia doubles player Nick Joyce of Foothill High. “They came out ready to play and we took a while to get going.”

Joyce partnered with Nabor Cabanillas to beat Foothill’s No. 1 pairing of Alex Kao and Nick Boyajian, 6-3. It was one of Valencia’s three set victories in doubles.

Kevin Saginian and Evan Balmain also took a set off Kao and Boyajian, 6-2.

The Vikings (16-4) won four singles sets, two apiece from Chad LeDuff and Joey Fernicola.

None of Valencia’s players had an answer for Foothill High’s Stefan Doehler, who is a United States Tennis Association top 50-ranked player in the 18-year-old division and a Yale University commit.

“I just tried to stay as consistent as I could and wait for them to make the errors,” said Doehler, who won all three of his sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.

LeDuff, who was also celebrating his 17th birthday on Friday, was perfect in his remaining sets with scores of 6-0, 6-0.

“In singles, they were just consistent and kept balls alive, which is really tough on a hot day like this,” LeDuff said of the Knights.

Fernicola won his sets 7-6, 6-0.

Foothill’s doubles lineup was solid all around with Nathan Richardson and Ethan Robert sweeping three sets from the No. 3 spot.

Five senior starters played their final high school matches on Friday for Valencia.

“I think we grew a lot compared to the beginning of the season,” LeDuff said. “I think we got a lot more motivated.”


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