Sea Kings two strong

Corona del Mar High overcomes absence of Peyton, as doubles sweep in quarterfinal win against visiting Palos Verdes.

May 19, 2010|By Matt Szabo

CORONA DEL MAR — Early Tuesday afternoon, the pressure was already on the Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team before any balls were struck.

The players heard that No. 1 singles player, Villanova-bound senior Ryan Peyton, wouldn't be at the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal match due to the stomach flu.

Hours later, the pressure was still on, this time applied by a couple of pesky Palos Verdes doubles teams.

And, as they have all season, the CdM doubles players responded. Not with their mouths, but with the kind of effort that earns plenty of circled sets on CdM's big dry-erase scoreboard.


The sweep of the nine doubles sets, plus a couple of singles sets by junior Shane Korber, allowed No. 3-seeded CdM to earn an 11-7 victory and a date at No. 2 Santa Barbara in the semifinals.

It's the first time CdM has advanced to the semifinals since 2005.

"It was a very big team effort," said senior Pierce Stemler, who plays at No. 3 doubles with junior Ismean Aboubakare. "All of us knew what we had to do. We needed to sweep ... After the first round, we kind of decided we were ready. We could handle this. They were good, but we're just a little bit better. We just needed to play our game and hit our shots."

The No. 1 team of seniors Matt Fisher and Karl Fletcher, as well as the No. 2 team of Carter Wheatley and Alex Murray, also swept for CdM (18-2).

Two sets at the end were biggest. With CdM holding a tenuous 8-7 sets lead, Stemler and Aboubakare rallied for a 7-5 victory over Palos Verdes' No. 1 team of Chase Ruth and Elliott Solandt, winning the last three games.

Moments later, Fisher and Fletcher outlasted Palos Verdes' No. 2 team of Connor Gomez and Mikey Geisinger, 7-6 (7-5).

A team called the Sea Kings was guaranteed to win, as the teams share the nickname. But those two doubles sets helped CdM earn its 10th set and clinch the match over Palos Verdes (13-7).

CdM Coach Brian Ricker said he wasn't surprised his doubles teams, which went 126-6 this year against Orange County teams not named University, would come through.

"This is one of the most exciting matches I've been involved in, in 10 years of coaching," Ricker said. "I couldn't have been more proud of the doubles players. We've had a dominating doubles season, but it seems like it's always close. To watch those last two sets was exciting."

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