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CdM puts up a fight

Sea Kings hang with top-ranked Uni, but ultimately lose in battle for first place in league.

March 31, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

CORONA DEL MAR — Facing perhaps the best high school boys' tennis team in the nation, Corona del Mar had two choices Thursday.

The Sea Kings could try to rise to the occasion. They could also get trampled, like University has done to so many other teams over the past five years.

CdM Coach Brian Ricker was proud his team took the former action against its Pacific Coast League rival, even after losing, 13-5, at CdM.

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The match was closer than the score indicated. CdM was behind just 7-5 after two rounds and could have been even closer.

"This lineup works, and they're getting better with each other," Ricker said. "At least we know we can play with these guys. We get one more shot at them."

Usually after two rounds, University Coach John Kessler is thinking about what substitutes to put in. On Thursday, his team was in a battle he said the Trojans hadn't faced since beating CdM, 11-7, at Uni last year.

University (10-0, 4-0 in league) is the defending CIF Southern Section Division I champion and top-ranked in this year's poll as well. The Trojans breezed through the National High School All-American Tournament earlier in March, beating defending champion Menlo of Atherton, 7-1, in the title match.

The Trojans are heavy favorites to claim their sixth straight league title; they haven't lost a league match since 2006. Going by the United States Tennis Assn. Southern California rankings, they have an embarrassment of riches. Their three singles players Thursday – sophomores Gage Brymer and Stefan Menichella and freshman Drew Dawson – are all ranked in the top 11 in Southern California boys' 16s.

But there Kessler was deep into the second round against CdM, just hoping his No. 2 doubles team of Ryo Shimizu and Tyler Lu could hold off CdM's No. 3 team of junior Zach Williams and sophomore Paul Kacik. He had just watched CdM's No. 2 team of senior Ismaen Aboubakare and sophomore Alec Adamson outlast Uni's No. 1 team of Kona Luu and Vincent Pan, 10-8 in a tiebreaker, pulling CdM within 6-5 in sets.

Shimizu and Lu came through, surviving three match points to win 7-3 in a tiebreaker and giving the Trojans the 7-5 advantage. Uni carried its momentum through the final round, but Kessler was just happy to head back to Irvine with a win.

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