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Foothill League boys tennis: Valencia too strong up top

No. 1 singles, doubles keep Vikings unbeaten in league

Posted: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s J.R. Macalutas hits a return against West Ranch on Tuesday at Valencia High. The Vikings won 10-8 in a matchup of the league’s last two unbeatens.

 

When it came down to a couple of sets, the boys tennis team with more firepower at the top of the lineup held the advantage.

That team turned out to be Valencia, which bent but didn’t break against a resilient West Ranch squad in a 10-8 victory on Tuesday at Valencia High School.

The Vikings remained undefeated in Foothill League play, and West Ranch lost its first match of the league season.

“It’s just all in the head,” said Valencia doubles player Anders Jansson. “It’s such a mental game.”

Jansson and Joey Fernicola, Valencia’s No. 1 doubles team, swept their three sets 6-2. 6-2, 6-4, while No. 1 singles player J.R. Macalutas took home all three of his sets, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

But the Wildcats kept it close with wins in the Nos. 2 and 3 singles spots.

“West Ranch fought really hard and we lost a couple close sets in the beginning, but it was a great match,” said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg.

West Ranch also fought hard in doubles. Despite losing to Jansson and Fernicola, the Wildcats’ team of Brandon Lee and Wayne Moses won two sets, 7-6 (7-5) and 7-5.

After the second round of sets, the match was tied at 6-6.

“This was the opportunity we’ve been waiting for,” said West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker. “I told them they were going to have to go out and take it. Valencia wasn’t going to let us have it.”

The Vikings (13-0, 5-0) pulled out several narrow sets, a trend exemplified by Jansson and Fernicola’s final set of the afternoon.

They went ahead 5-2 on West Ranch’s Evan Abbott and Kiril Lipa, but then lost a break and had the lead cut to 5-4 before pulling out the 6-4 win.

Down the stretch, the Wildcats (7-2, 4-1) couldn’t match up with Vikings’ depth, but Spiecker pointed to earlier sets as the tipping point.

“We dropped two sets by a serve break,” he said. “I think we’ve got to go out and win one of those 7-5 or 7-6.”

With his dominant day, Macalutas improved his record to 13-0 in league play.

Outside of the loss to Macalutas, West Ranch’s No. 1 singles player Baron Von Kessler swept his other two sets 6-0, 6-0.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Spiecker said. “They played exactly how I wanted them to.”

It was the first close match either team has played so far in league, and Jansson looks at it as a wakeup call despite the victory.

“I know we can play better,” he said. “I thought we could have won some of those close sets.”

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