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Boys tennis: ’Cats get singled out

West Ranch boys miss out their first win by the narrowest of margins

Posted: March 16, 2010 10:31 p.m.
Updated: March 17, 2010 4:30 a.m.

West Ranch High's No. 3 singles player Ali El-Arabi reaches to volley against Granada Hills High on Tuesday at West Ranch. The Wildcats took an early lead but struggled to finish and fell 77-76 on games, after ending with a 9-9 tie on sets.

 

When West Ranch’s No. 3 doubles player Sabin Kim sliced a perfect drop over the net to earn a two-set lead, things were looking good for the Wildcats.

Then West Ranch’s No. 2 doubles pair of Brandon Lee and Jason Wei finished a three-set sweep, and the Wildcats could almost grasp their first win of the season on Tuesday.

And then Granada Hills showed why every game counts in a tennis match.

The Wildcats dropped two of their last three sets and fell on games 77-76 after a 9-9 tie on sets to the Highlanders at West Ranch.

“They took their foot off the accelerator, and I’m a little disappointed that it came down to games,” said West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker. “I’m not sure if we let them back into it or if (Granada Hills) just stepped up, but I think it was a little bit of both.”

West Ranch (0-4) impressed with its doubles play early on, when Wei and Lee won their sets 6-2, 6-3 and 6-0 over the Highlanders’ three teams, respectively.

Like much of the Wildcats’ squad this year, the pair is learning to play together as the season goes on.

“The first match was kind of rough, but we’re figuring it out. Each time out there, we feel a lot better,” said Wei, who has also played No. 1 in the singles lineup this season.

“We lost our top singles players, and I think that most of the time we’re trying to get together a solid doubles team,” Lee said.

The doubles teams certainly did their part, taking seven of nine available points.

But it wasn’t quite enough Tuesday.

On the singles side, Granada Hills (1-2) was able to exploit several matchups that turned out to be key.

Spiecker and company have been tasked with replacing a strong group of talent, as Jordan Hovis, the Foothill League singles champion, and the rest of a solid singles lineup and a couple of doubles players have graduated.

West Ranch No. 1 singles player Baron Von Kessler beat the Highlanders’ No. 3 Harris Choe by a decisive 6-1 margin, but fell to No. 1 singles player William Chung and No. 2 Roger Carnow.

West Ranch’s No. 2 Ali El-Arabi picked up the team’s only other set on the singles side, converting a 4-1 lead into a 6-3 win.

El-Arabi’s win, which came in his final set of the day, led to cheers among the Wildcats’ crowd. It put the team up 9-7 and seemingly in control.

But after the match was over, several recounts of the games took place and it turned out the Wildcats were left trailing by the closest of margins.

Kim and his partner, Kirill Lipa, lost the final match of the day 6-3 to the Highlanders’ No. 1 pair Steven Bonilla and Steven Liu, and it ended up being the difference in the match.

Granada Hills is also a young squad that lost seven players from a talented team that made it to the CIF-City Section finals.

Highlanders head coach Simon Robertshaw said this was the third and final Santa Clarita Valley tuneup for his squad, which also lost to Valencia 14-4 and Canyon 12-6.

 

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