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CIF tennis: New strategy lifts Wildcats

West Ranch beats La Quinta by focusing on serves

Posted: May 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Baron Von Kessler prepares to hit a return against La Quinta on Wednesday at West Ranch High.

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West Ranch boys tennis, sporting different doubles teams than usual, focused on hitting solid serves and high-percentage shots in Wednesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division II first-round playoff match.

The strategy helped the Wildcats win five of their first six sets on their way to a 12-6 victory over La Quinta High at West Ranch High School.

“It just sort of sets the tone and the pace of the whole match,” said West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker of the approach.
Though the Blackhawks (14-5) made a late charge in singles, West Ranch’s dominant doubles play held them off. Brandon Lee and Ryan Yoon played together for the first time since before the start of Foothill League play, and swept their sets 6-0, 6-2, 6-1.

“I don’t judge anything beforehand,” Lee said. “I don’t underestimate, I don’t overestimate. I just go out there and play.”
Lee’s usual doubles partner, Wayne Moses, joined Ali El-Arabi and won two sets, 6-1, 6-1.

La Quinta, which finished second in the Desert Valley League behind Palm Desert, the division’s No. 1 seed, won just one set in doubles when Tyler Salisbury and Tommy Bieksha beat Moses and El-Arabi 6-2.

Evan Abbott and Kiril Lipa also swept for the Wildcats, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

“All season, that’s been our Achilles’ heel,” said La Quinta head coach Lauren Young. “We’re solid on singles. Even some of our doubles players can play singles.”

Though West Ranch (13-2) didn’t fair as well in singles, it won the sets it needed to in order to secure the win and advance to the second round, where it will likely face No. 3 seed Santa Monica.

After taking a 5-1 lead in sets, the Wildcats’ top two singles players, Baron Von Kessler and Harrison Collins dropped back-to-back sets to keep the Blackhawks in contention.

Both players recovered and won their remaining sets, with Von Kessler’s 6-3 win over Tyson West putting the icing on the cake to cap off the day.

Spiecker called it one of Von Kessler’s biggest wins of the season, coming against La Quinta’s No. 1 singles.

“I think I was just more pumped,” Von Kessler said. “I like that my team was cheering me on and everything. That really gives me a lot of confidence.”

Collins lost his one set of the day to West, 6-4, but also won 6-0, 6-0 on the day.

Von Kessler lost a set earlier in the day to Harrison Hought 6-4.

As for the new doubles teams, Spiecker said he plans on keeping everything as it is as the playoffs go on.

“We have a lot of potential to move on,” Lee said. “When we play on Friday, we (likely) play a No. 3 seed, but that doesn’t mean anything to us. Valencia is a No. 4 seed and we could have beat them.”

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