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Valencia tennis caps it off in the quarters

Vikings' best playoff run in five years comes to a close

Posted: May 13, 2013 11:03 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2013 11:03 p.m.

Valencia doubles players Chris Pope, left, and Cameron Braun compete against Beverly Hills on Monday at Valencia High.

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One break of serve here, another tough bounce there, and that was enough to prevent the Valencia Vikings boys tennis team from moving on in the postseason.

A series of losses in closely-contested sets early in the match was too much to overcome as Valencia lost 12-6 to the Beverly Hill Normans in Monday’s CIF-Southern Section Division II quarterfinal match at Valencia High School.

“Because we knew this was a tough round, we got a little bit tight,” said Valencia senior Cameron Braun. “And I think that was the biggest thing.”

Braun and fellow senior Chris Pope teamed up to sweep three doubles sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in typical fashion. The pairing has anchored the Vikings’ strong doubles lineup all season.

Other than the two seniors, Valencia’s usual dominant doubles teams struggled in the team’s first CIF quarterfinal appearance since 2008.

In the No. 2 slot, David Myers and Sam Rebele lost three narrow sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, which included a pivitol loss to Beverly Hills’ No. 1 team of Austin Towns and Cosimo Bocchi to cap off the second round.

Towns and Bocchi were strong servers and played aggressively at the net, jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the set.

Myers and Rebele rallied back to break a serve and cut the lead to 5-4, but the Beverly Hills pairing closed it out to send their team to an 8-4 lead headed into the third and final round.

At that point, Valencia (17-4) needed to sweep all six of its remaining sets to assure a win.

“The close ones just really hurt,” Pope said. “It’s a couple close sets and that kind of switches the score.”

In one of the few close sets that went Valencia’s way, No. 3 doubles team Joseph Hwang and Kevin Saginian beat the Normans’ No. 2 pairing of Eric Busi and Matthew Dubin 7-6 (7-4) after a tiebreak.

The other two wins for the Vikings came in singles play, with sophomore Chad LeDuff winning 7-5 and junior Joey Fernicola winning 6-4, both against Beverly Hills’ Ethan Kunin.

Overall though, Beverly Hills (13-2) won seven of nine sets in singles on its way to knocking Valencia out of the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Normans beat the Vikings in the second round of the Division II playoffs in 2011.

“We don’t have anybody who is a lock (to win),” said Beverly Hills head coach Mike Margolin. “So it wasn’t a master plan, but we saw we were winning close sets, and I realized that’s how we were winning these matches.”

Though Valencia’s season is done at the team level, a total of six Vikings will move on to the CIF-Southern Section Individual Sectionals at The Cate School in Carpinteria, beginning on May 23.

Those who will compete at individuals include LeDuff and Fernicola in singles and the pairings of Pope/Braun and Myers/Rebele in doubles.


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