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Bound for first final

Boys' Tennis

Lineup moves work as Sage Hill wins at Cerritos to advance to first CIF final in program history.

May 24, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

They got revenge on the Dons, who had knocked the Lightning out in the semifinals two years ago on their way to the Division IV title. Prior to that, there were five straight years from 2004 to 2008 where Sage was eliminated in the CIF quarterfinals.

"It's a door we've been knocking on for two years now," Manolakas said of the title-match appearance. "Both of those [semifinal] losses, they hurt so much. Last year's especially, because we felt like we were closer than ever."

Sean Batten and Eric Magliarditi won two of three sets at No. 3 doubles for the Lightning. They suffered the only doubles loss of the day in a tiebreaker to Oh and Yoon, but came back strong for a 6-0 victory in their final set.

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Nasier Emtiaz and Denis Cirit were each swept in singles but won games, should it have come to that. Sage Hill made sure it didn't.

"They're a good program," Longoria said of Cerritos. "They always have tough players. Our strategy was to be ahead 4-2, and that was huge that we were. [Assistant] Coach Alec [Horton] predicted 11-7 [as a final score]. I thought worst-case scenario was that we'd go to 9-9 and win on games."

Cerritos Coach Chris Chutikorn said Sage Hill was more consistent and kept the ball in the court more Tuesday. Still, he said he wished the Lightning would have played the match straight up and not stacked their lineup in doubles.

"This is how our lineup's always been," Chutikorn said. "I try to put my best singles players in singles and my best doubles players in doubles. I try to play like that, and they did the same thing other teams have been trying to do — they stacked their team. It's not unfair. There's nothing wrong with that; I just wouldn't do it. I want to go head-to-head competition. Maybe that's something I should start doing, I don't know."

The Lightning will take it. They're headed to Claremont and Longoria, the only head tennis coach the program has ever known, said it's big.

"It's huge for our seniors and it's huge for the program," Longoria said. "It'll help us get some recognition. You're in a town with Newport Harbor and CdM, and then you have Laguna Beach and Irvine. It's kind of almost fate that we're the only ones left. And the one from Newport Beach or Costa Mesa who went the farthest in the [CIF] Individuals was Robbe. So that is really huge for our program."

Now, there's just one match to go.

"We've been firing on all cylinders for a while, getting better," Marshack said. "Everything's falling into place."

*

CIF Southern Section Division III

Semifinal

Sage Hill 11, Cerritos 7

Singles – Emtiaz (SH) lost to Min, 0-6, lost to Alagappan, 0-6, lost to Yu, 2-6; Cirit (SH) lost, 0-6, 2-6, 1-6; Simon (SH) won, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

Doubles – Marshack-Manolakas (SH) def. Oh-Yoon, 6-2, def. Tavaragiri-Pak, 6-1, def. Tan-Cheng, 6-2; Kurzweil-Lee (SH) won, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3; Batten-Magliarditi (SH) lost, 6-7, won, 6-0, 6-4.

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