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Sage has edge over Tars

Boys' Tennis

Lightning get closest of wins, defeating Newport Harbor for first time in program history even without top singles player.

March 17, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Green was in abundance everywhere on Thursday afternoon at the Newport Harbor High tennis courts.

Usually only the visitors, Sage Hill, would be wearing the color. On St. Patrick's Day, even many of the Newport parents were decked out in green attire.

Nobody had to pinch anyone not wearing green. By the end, the Lightning only had to pinch themselves to believe the result of the nonleague match.

Sage Hill defeated Newport Harbor for the first time in program history, winning on games, 81-80, after each team won nine sets.

"This was especially satisfying because we did it without Robbe [Simon]," Sage Hill Coach A.G. Longoria said. "We just had a great performance from everybody. It was definitely a team effort."

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Simon, Sage's top singles player, was sidelined with shoulder tendinitis. Longoria said he wants to take it easy with Simon to have him at full-strength later in the season.

Simon watched another top Lightning singles player, senior Andrew Kurzweil, come up big in the third round.

The match was tight throughout. Sage Hill had a 4-2 lead after a round but Newport Harbor tied it at 6-6 headed into the final round.

It was still tied at 8-8 – and also tied 68-68 in games – with two matches on the court. Kurzweil was playing Newport Harbor No. 1 singles player Jason Cernius, and the Sage doubles team of Nasier Emtaiz and Ryan Lee was playing Newport Harbor's Jamie Davis and Malcolm Faigen.

Kurzweil pulled out his set, 7-5, which clinched the match for the Lightning as the other set went to a tiebreaker. Davis and Faigen prevailed, 7-2, in the tiebreaker, but Sage Hill had the one-game victory.

The Lightning also had topped Newport Harbor in their Lightning Invitational two weeks ago.

"That was a college format and we had our No. 1, Robbe [Simon], then," Kurzweil said. "I feel like this is a much bigger win, emotionally. [Cernius] is a really good player so I went to Advantage Tennis Academy before this [match] and worked out there. I think it really helped me out."

Kurzweil swept his three singles sets and Denis Cirit also won two of three sets for the Lightning. Garrett Rapport, playing at No. 1 singles for Sage, lost his three sets but got games in each one, which turned out to be important.

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