Despite a 7-11 loss against Palos Verdes last week that left them with a season record of 2-2, boys tennis is optimistic about their prospects for the remainder of the season and their potential for a CIF win.
Boys tennis lost 7-11 in their March 16 match against Palos Verdes, leaving them with a season record of 2-2.
The team also lost 7-11 to Brentwood in their second match of the season. Other matches have been more successful; the team beat Palisades 11-7 in their first match of the season and won 13-5 against Mira Costa last week.
“The losses weren’t too disappointing, especially because we had a lot of players missing due to illness,” coach Wilston Poon said. “We’re trying to get our guys at full strength now and keep them healthy. Once we do that, the team should be in good shape.”
In fact, tennis may have a competitive edge this season. At a time when many other schools are recovering from the loss of leading players who have graduated, Samo’s team remains perfectly intact from last year, with all its key players still in place.
“Lots of teams struggle at the beginning of a season because they’ve lost all their seniors and the players are really inexperienced. We didn’t lose anyone, so we have an advantage,” senior Julien Debonnet said.
Poon said he hopes the team will be able to use this advantage to “really make a push for CIF.” Last year, they advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Brentwood.
According to many on the team, the key to victory this season lies in, as senior and doubles player Charles Villero said, “the doubles players stepping up.”
The team’s singles players – including seniors Conrad McKinnon and Connor Treacy and junior Cristobal Rivera – have been “doing really great for us this season,” Poon said. The less experienced doubles players, however, suffer from lack of what Villero calls “match toughness.”
“Most of our doubles players are really good practice players, but when the pressure’s on they get nervous,” McKinnon said. “They need to play more matches, enter a few tournaments, and just practice under pressure.”
McKinnon also pointed out that seniors Alex Baettig and Seby Urtiz, doubles partners who “usually come in with a few good wins,” are the only doubles players who consistently compete together. Ozther doubles players, he said, have been “mixing and matching” their partners.
“That could be part of why they’re struggling,” McKinnon said. “They’re not playing with the same person all the time, so they can’t get into a rhythm or establish camaraderie.”
Whatever the flaws in doubles play may be, tennis has turned its attention to fine-tuning their performance. With these efforts underway, and the majority of the team now nearing the end of their senior years, many see this season’s team as ripe for CIF victory.
“We have very high expectations,” Villero said. “I think we have the potential to win this year.”