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Sage Hill bows out in semis

Despite impressive sweep from Simon, Lightning denied by Whitney and won't defend CIF boys' tennis crown.

May 21, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Sage Hill School senior Robbi Simon returns a forehand during a match against Whitney in a CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals in Cerritos on Monday, May 21.
Sage Hill School senior Robbi Simon returns a forehand… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

CERRITOS — Playing with a very sore left shoulder, Sage Hill School senior Robbe Simon kept battling.

The lefty said he felt pain, particularly when serving. But there was no way Simon was going to take a seat in Monday's CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal boys' tennis match at Cerritos Regional Park.

Simon swept a difficult Whitney singles lineup, somehow getting through three tough sets against Vignesh Sadras, Ruthwick Pathireddy and Sathwick Pathireddy. Simon, who Coach A.G. Longoria has called the best player in program history, stayed undefeated in the playoffs.

Longoria called it an Academy Award effort. As a team, the Lightning still were snubbed at the end of the day.

No. 2-seeded Whitney came back to win huge doubles sets to beat Sage Hill, 10-8, crushing the Lightning's dreams of a repeat CIF championship.

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It was the Lightning's third loss of the season to Academy League champion Whitney (23-1). All were close, as Sage Hill (12-11) lost on games in the teams' first league meeting and 11-7 in the second matchup.

Neither of those, though, hurt as badly as Monday's match.

"You have to give credit to Whitney," said Longoria, whose team lost in the semifinals for the third time in four seasons. "They did not give up. They're pretty aggressive, pretty confident with their style. I think they have a good shot in the final [against Tuesday's Valencia-St. Margaret's winner]. They may not have a super No. 1 [singles player] and a super No. 1 doubles [team], but you can see how solid their doubles are."

Solid enough to come back for two huge wins in the first round. At No. 2 doubles, the Wildcats' Gabe Cupino and Sam Lau saved a match point and rallied for a 7-5 victory over Sage's Eric Magliarditi and Ryan Lee. At No. 3 doubles, Alex Pham and Mitch Hoang overcame a 5-2 deficit, winning the last five games for a 7-5 victory over Garrett Rapport and Sam Sherman.

The Lightning easily could have had a 4-2 lead after the round. Instead, Sage was down by the same score.

Whitney also held a 7-5 sets lead after the second round after another big comeback. Cupino and Lau won the final five games to beat Sage's top doubles team of Alex Manolakas and Denis Cirit, 6-4.

With Sage Hill having little singles depth behind Simon, the Wildcats quickly won three sets in the final round to clinch the match.

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