Sage's super heartbreak

The Lightning ties with Rowland High in sets and games, but Raiders win in dramatic fashion after a super tiebreaker Tuesday.

May 26, 2010|By Mark Ratto | Daily Pilot

NEWPORT BEACH — CIF stands for California Interscholastic Federation. The three letters followed by the word playoffs, however, mean so much more.

It means character will be built. It means teenagers will emerge as heroes or just young men looking at defeat. It means memories will be made and for many, those memories will be there last in a competitive sport.

CIF is tragedy or triumph, but never both.

The Sage Hill School boys' tennis competed in a CIF Southern Section Division IV semifinal against Rowland High and experienced all that comes with phrase, CIF playoffs.


The two teams tied, nine sets apiece and were also knotted at 53 games each. They were forced battle in a super tiebreaker Tuesday at The Tennis Club. This meant one more round of 18 one-game tiebreaker sets. The first to win 10 games wins the set.

After the super tiebreaker round, the teams had competed for 4 hours and 31 minutes. Rowland pulled away from Sage Hill in the super tiebreaker, 11-7, ending the Lightning's season in dramatic fashion.

"It's hard," said Alex Koeberle, a team captain and Sage Hill's only senior starter. "Last year I thought we came as close as you possible can, then lost. But to come back with this, and it may be weird to say, but I thought it was an incredible match. If I had to lose in my senior season, I guess it would have to be like this."

The Lightning (16-13) lost to the Raiders (22-2) in the semifinals two years ago and lost to Cerritos last year in semifinals as well. Rowland beat Cerritos last week and is now reaching the final for the second time in three years.

The Raiders are no slouches and brought firepower to each court. But Sage Hill, like it has done all year long, did not back down.

"At this point, I think [Rowland] is the best team left," Coach A.G. Longoria said after the match. "But who would have thought after starting out 0-8 we make it the semifinals? We only have one senior starter compared to last year's six starting seniors. But, this team refused to give up. It was a really tough match and I am proud of this group."

After the first go-around, the teams were tied at three sets apiece and 24 games each. The teams split again in the second go-around, and were tied, 6-6, but the Raiders landed one more game and were up, 49-48. The final round featured crucial points in every game and set.

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