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Foothill League boys tennis: Valencia caps perfection

Vikings stay cool to polish off another perfect league season

Posted: April 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia No. 1 singles player J.R. Macalutas hits a return against West Ranch on Wednesday at West Ranch High School. Macalutas finished 22-0 in league play this year.

 

All the pressure was on Valencia.

Going into Wednesday’s Foothill League boys tennis finale, it hadn’t lost a single dual match this season.

Its top singles and doubles players hadn’t dropped a set in league play.

Yet the Vikings were the more cool and collected team against West Ranch, making the shots when they needed to and winning enough close sets to take a 15-3 win at West Ranch High School.

It marks the fifth straight undefeated league season for Valencia (19-0, 10-0), a ninth league title in 10 seasons and a 51st straight Foothill victory.

“I feel very accomplished for this team,” said Valencia No. 1 singles J.R. Macalutas, who preserved a perfect 22-0 league season. “We actually played better than I expected. We didn’t play very well last time we played (West Ranch).”

Macalutas swept 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 to help his team take eight out of nine singles sets.

The last time the two teams met, the Wildcats (12-2, 8-2) were edged 10-8 after leading early in the match.

They didn’t put up as much of a fight this time thanks in part to the absence of Evan Abbott, one of the team’s top doubles players. He had to sit out the match after missing a class earlier in the day as per school policy.

That wasn’t the only reason West Ranch lost, according to head coach Eric Spiecker.

“We lost six sets by a break of serve,” he said.

And two of those were lost in tiebreaker games. In the final two sets of the afternoon, Valencia No. 2 Tayven Townsend bested West Ranch No. 1 Baron Von Kessler 7-6 (7-1) and Valencia’s Chris Pope took down West Ranch’s Harrison Collins 7-6 (8-6).

Pope also swept, winning his remaining sets 7-5 and 6-0.

Collins defeated Townsend for the Wildcats’ lone singles win. Otherwise, the Vikings dominated.

“I thought that they all played really relaxed and played their game today, and at this level, you have to be able to do that,” said Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg, who was doused with a celebratory bucket of ice water by her team after the match.

Another unbeaten streak was also kept alive for the Vikings when the pairing of Anders Jansson and Joey Fernicola swept in doubles 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, giving them a 30-0 record in league play this year.

In their final set of the day, Jansson and Fernicola fell behind 2-0 in games to the No. 3 Wildcats team of Zack Kim and Sabin Kim.

Eventually, the Valencia pair rallied to win the set 6-4.

“I think we learned from last time,” Fernicola said. “We learned a few more strategies against them, but West Ranch still gave us a run for our money.”

With Abbott out for West Ranch, his normal doubles partner Kirill Lipa teamed with Ryan Yoon and took one set 6-4 in the No. 2 spot.

West Ranch’s only other win came in a 7-6 (7-5) win from No. 1 doubles Brandon Lee and Wayne Moses.

“We were ready for today, but we just had a little curveball thrown at us,” Spiecker said.

The season isn’t over for either team, which finished as the top two in league for the fifth straight year. Both have automatic berths to the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs and both will participate in the individual Foothill preliminaries and finals next week.

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