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Prep tennis: New faces, same results

With newcomers still learning, West Ranch wins opener

Posted: March 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch's Kirill Lipa hits a shot between his legs against Oakwood on Tuesday at West Ranch High.

 

This wasn’t nearly the same West Ranch boys tennis team as it was a year ago.

At least for now, the results are the same.

Strong days from the top end of West Ranch’s singles and doubles players helped the team separate early and hang on for an 11-7 win over Oakwood High on Tuesday at West Ranch High School.

“It was a good first match,” said West Ranch senior doubles player Connor Hope. “It got us in match-play mode and got us used to pressure situations.”

Hope is one of just four returning players and three returners to the regular lineup on the 2012 Wildcats (1-0).

Darien Ramirez was paired with Hope as the No. 1 doubles team on Tuesday, and they won two sets, 7-5 and 6-1. Their lone loss came against Oakwood’s No. 1 doubles team of Andy Guggenham and Noah Goldberg, which beat them 6-2.

West Ranch also had strong performances from its top two singles players Baron Von Kessler and Kirill Lipa. Both are returning seniors.

Von Kessler swept his sets, winning all three 6-1 and Lipa won two sets, 7-6 and 6-2.

“I wasn’t sure how we were going to be,” Von Kessler said of the rash of new players. “They surprised me and they’re looking pretty good.”

Among the impressive young players was the Wildcats’ No. 2 doubles team of Chris Gaw and Jonathan Lee, the freshman-sophomore combo that won all three of their sets.

They beat Guggenham and Goldberg 6-4 and completed the day with wins of 6-3 and 6-2 against the Gorillas (0-1).

“This is probably some of the best me and my partner have played,” Gaw said, referring to his preseason work with his sophomore partner.

Early in the season, Wildcats head coach Eric Spiecker said he’s working with the young players by emphasizing the importance of maintaining aggressiveness when players have the chance to close out sets.

“We’re working on recognizing opportunities and maximizing those opportunities,” Spiecker said.

On Tuesday, Spiecker said he was pleased with the team’s ability to finish off break points and win games under pressure.

With four matches to go before Foothill League play begins, players are still being moved up and down the lineup and plenty of adjustments are being made.

“We’ve got to get everyone in the mood of playing varsity,” Hope said.

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