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Boys tennis: Valencia’s sour note

The Vikings struggle in their final tuneup before league begins

Posted: March 18, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's J.R. Macalutas returns a shot against Santa Monica on Thursday at Valencia High.

 
Valencia’s No. 3 doubles team of John Schmidt and Sam Yun were on fire Thursday at Valencia High.

They trailed all three sets by several games, but fought back each time to earn a three-set sweep.

Unfortunately for Valencia, it wasn’t nearly enough.

Santa Monica High controlled the singles points and earned enough in doubles to take a decisive 12-6 win over the Vikings.

Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg said her team might have left a little bit on the courts in its final preleague tuneup, despite knowing it was up against another tough challenge.

“Every day you’ve got to go out and play. That’s why they don’t put the headlines in before you play the event,” Kellogg said.

“I think it’s mental. It is effort and that starts in the head. You have to come out ready to move and to play. This is an athletic sport.”

Valencia’s singles had a tough time all afternoon, with No. 1 Tyler Gottshall suffering his first sweep of the season, dropping sets 6-2, 6-3 and 6-0 to Santa Monica (5-1). His teammate, No. 2 singles Ben Inchalik, suffered the same fate.

“Our singles were (the key) today for sure,” said Santa Monica head coach Wilston Poon. “They’ve been pretty much driving our team this year.”

Gottshall described it as a bad formula for Valencia — good competition the Vikings didn’t play well against.

“I played flat. It was bad and they were good,” Gottshall said, summing up the Vikings’ afternoon with simplicity. “It was just not my day. They made me play today and I just didn’t move enough to play with them.”

Valencia’s J.R. Macalutas picked up a hard-fought 6-4 set in his first match over Santa Monica’s No. 3 Alex Baettig. But trailing 1-4 in his second set, Macalutas was slowed by a cramp in his leg and retired for the day, forfeiting the set.

The Vikings’ No. 1 doubles team of Dalton Ullman and Tayven Townsend picked up 6-3 and 6-2 wins over Santa Monica’s No. 2 and No. 3 teams, but that was about it for the team’s bright spots.

Valencia (5-3) will host its Spring Smash tournament on Saturday, but as far as team play goes, the Vikings’ next matchup will be Tuesday at home against West Ranch in both teams’ Foothill League opener.

The loss marks the end of an impressive preseason run for the Vikings, who notched big wins over Crescenta Valley, Granada Hills and Thousand Oaks.

However, the team has proved itself capable of responding to challenges, evidenced by the comeback wins of Schmidt and Yun.

“That was the key for us (today). We came back against the No. 3 from 4-1 and from the (No.) 2 down 5-2, so we just kept coming back,” Schmidt said. “Doubles always has a positive feel, but we know singles will get it together.

“We’ve never had a perfect preseason, but we’re getting great experience.”

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