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Longoria, Leach earn honors

Sage Hill coach and NBTC pro receive awards for their work.

February 10, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

A.G. Longoria took two unseeded high school tennis teams deep into the CIF playoffs in 2010.

Longoria's Sage Hill School boys' and girls' teams may have been unseeded, but he makes sure they're never unprepared.

Longoria has been named the California High School Tennis Coach of the Year by the United States Professional Tennis Assn. Newport Beach resident Rick Leach, a pro at Newport Beach Tennis Club, was named California Touring Coach of the Year.

They received the honors during a luncheon Sunday at the USPTA's annual convention, at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach. It's Longoria's second time in his 10 years at Sage Hill that he's earned the award, the first being in 2007.

"It's an incredible honor," Longoria said. "I feel very good about the fact that the school supports athletics, and tennis in particular."

Longoria, 65, came close to bringing two championship plaques to Newport Coast. The boys' team upset No. 2 Cate in the Division IV quarterfinals last May before falling to Rowland in a nearly six-hour semifinal match. The match was tied 9-9 in sets and 73-73 in games, but Rowland finally won, 11-7, in tiebreakers.

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Then again, the Sage boys (16-13) came a long way after starting the season 0-9.

"We looked like we were going to have the most horrible season and we just kept working and working," Longoria said. "The team came together and played really, really hard."

The girls' team, moved up to Division III, upset top-seeded West Ranch in the CIF semifinals before nearly doing the same against rival St. Margaret's in the final. The Tartans have not lost in three years but edged Sage (17-5) on games in the final.

"We had a great run in the playoffs again," said Longoria, whose girls' teams have reached at least the quarterfinals every year. "We played probably one of the best teams ever in our division. The first time it was 11-7, the second time 10-8, then 9-9 in the finals. We were still improving.

"That's what was very endearing to me. They improved so much."

Longoria is the only head tennis coach the Lightning have had in the 10-year history of the school.

Leach, 46, is the top-ranked player in the United States Tennis Assn. men's 45s. The former Newport Beach Breaker won the men's 45s national clay court and hard court titles last year.

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