SEAL BEACH — Everyone searched for shade Saturday afternoon at the Seal Beach Tennis Center as temperatures reached the low 80s, perhaps signaling the unofficial beginning of summer.
Unfortunately for Ryan Peyton and Shane Korber, they ran into a doubles team from Brentwood that was just as hot in the championship match of the CIF Southern Section Individuals tournament.
The CdM duo couldn’t hold leads in both sets and fell to Chris Lord and T.J. Pura, 6-4, 6-4, in the title match. Yet the Villanova-bound senior Peyton and Korber, a junior, left the court with their heads high. A banner will be put up at the CdM tennis courts because they made the finals, the sixth Sea Kings boys’ doubles team to do so since 1999.
“It’s going to be sweet to go back there next year and see it,” Peyton said. “Not many banners are up there, so it feels good to be one of them up there … This was awesome. This was more than I could have hoped for. I knew we are a good doubles team, but I never thought we’d get to the finals.”
Peyton and Korber had topped Jonathan Hammel and Curtis Wu of Valencia of Placentia, 6-4, 6-4, in the semifinals. Later on an adjacent court, Lord and Pura upset University’s No. 1 seeded team of Reo Asami and Ryan Cheung in the other semifinal, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
Lord is a senior headed to Bowdoin College in Maine. Pura just a freshman, but he has a big game as he’s ranked a “blue chip” prospect and No. 11 nationally among freshmen by Tennisrecruiting.net.
Like the CdM duo, Lord and Pura hadn’t even won their league, placing second in the Olympic League to two teammates. But they had the game to come back from double-break down in both sets against Peyton and Korber. The CdM pairing held leads of 3-0 in the first set and 4-1 in the second, yet could hold neither.
“They were just playing very smart doubles,” Korber said. “They adjusted.”
CdM Coach Brian Ricker said the Brentwood team just came up with the shots at the end.
“That was just a good team,” Ricker said. “That’s all you can say. I thought our boys played well. They just lull you into wanting to just rally with them, and then they hit winners. Then if you try and go for too much, you make too many errors. They lull you into not playing smart.”
Peyton and Korber had a chance to go up 5-2 in the first set, but Lord and Pura rallied from love-40 to make it 4-3, and the Brentwood team went on to win three more games and the set.
The second set was more of the same, with another big Brentwood rally. With Korber serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set, Pura came up with a great lob, then backhand volley to give Brentwood its first match point. Korber’s overhead brought it back to deuce, but then a Lord backhand forehand down the line gave Brentwood its second match point.
The match ended on an unfortunate break, as Korber’s shot hit the tape and went just long.
“It was tough,” Peyton said. “I thought that I got them really far out wide, but then they’d always seem to get it down the line or get it cross-court somehow.”
Korber and Peyton had gotten past the team from Valencia earlier in the match by playing smart doubles themselves, executing lobs at the right moments and coming back from being broken early in both sets.
And both CdM players could feel happy with making the finals.
“It’s just the culmination of a lot of effort, a lot of hard work, and a lot of working together,” Korber said. “We just gelled at the right time.”