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Foothill tennis roundup: Valencia turns toward playoffs

Vikings clinch league title, change focus to postseason; Saugus earns a pla

Posted: April 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

Valencia boys tennis clinched its seventh straight Foothill League title with a dominant 18-0 showing against Canyon at Canyon High School on Tuesday.

“I wanted to go to Valencia because I knew the coaches here brought tennis to a higher level in Santa Clarita,” said Vikings senior No. 1 J.R. Macalutas, who swept 6-1, 6-0. 6-0. “Now the only thing we need to accomplish is capturing a CIF (championship), and with our depth that’s a realistic goal.”

Valencia’s (15-3 overall, 9-0 Foothill League) shift in focus to postseason play seemingly elevated the already dominant team’s game to new levels against Canyon, as the final aggregate game score on Tuesday was 108-7. In particular, Macalutas’ final set, in which he didn’t drop a single point, bookmarked the authoritative showing.

Thursday marks Canyon’s final outing of the season. It plays Hart, an important contest for a Cowboys program still searching for its first win this season.

“Our concentration, especially with the league’s best here today, was more about how we played than the final results,” said Cowboys head coach Annie Araujo. “We have a bunch of young players that have improved immensely this season, and I look forward to seeing their maturity turn into wins next season.”

Unfortunately for the Cowboys (0-11, 0-9), and the rest of the Foothill League, many of Valencia’s key components will be returning next season.

The most intimidating example is sophomore Joey Fernicola, whose emergence this year as one of the league’s top singles performers mirrors the ascent of Macalutas and many others in Valencia’s steep tradition of all-league singles players.

“Joey’s a smart player who knows where to put the ball. But really it’s his improved mental game that made him the player he’s been this year,” Macalutas said.

Valencia will look to remain in postseason form against an improved Golden Valley team on Thursday.

“I want these kids to feel like they have a strong network behind them, even the pros have their entourages,” said Vikings head coach Annie Kellogg. “We still have the Foothill League tournament ahead of us, but I’ve begun wearing my CIF cap to get us into the right state of mind.”

Saugus 10, Golden Valley 8
After snapping a 15-year playoff drought by reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division II postseason last spring, the Centurions are going back for a second straight season.

“When we made the playoffs last year, it was unexpected because it hadn’t happened in awhile,” said Saugus head coach Allan Hardbarger. “But I feel like this year’s team really believed in themselves.”

The win pushes Saugus to 8-9 overall and 5-4 in the Foothill League, while Hart lost Tuesday to drop to 4-5. The two teams split their meetings, but the Centurions own the tiebreaker by virtue of having won more sets.

Against Golden Valley, the doubles team of Chris MacDonald and Nick Burgess swept by scores of 7-6, 7-6 and 6-4, while the tandem of Grant Vaziri and Josh Hill won two sets 7-5 and 6-1.

No. 1 singles player Tristin Thierry took two sets 6-0 and 6-0, and Chris Poursayadi won two sets 6-2 and 7-5.

For the Grizzlies, Brandon Yu swept 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2, while the doubles team of Brandon Sen and Brian Park won 6-3 and 7-5.
Saugus (8-9, 5-4) closes out the regular season on Thursday against West Ranch.

West Ranch 10, Hart 8

West Ranch survived a late surge from league rival Hart to clinch a second-place finish in the Foothill League.

“This match played out unexpectedly, our usually reliable doubles teams didn’t perform the way I assumed they would, but then our number threes came out of nowhere and pulled out some clutch sets,” said West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker.

The doubles team of Jonathan Li and Brandon Oh, called up from JV earlier this season, played beyond their maturity in capturing two of the Wildcats’ three doubles sets.

That’s where doubles success ended for the Wildcats. Hart’s all-league caliber pairing of Tommy Labat and Rohan Shankar swept their opponents, with teammates Bogar Munoz and Adam Tapayoanoc capturing two of their own respective sets.

To the dismay of the Indians, three sets were all West Ranch needed from its doubles units, as Wildcats senior one and two Baron Von Kessler and Kirill Lipa each swept.

Hart finishes the season at home against Canyon, while West Ranch visits Saugus on Thursday.

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