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Young guns bolster CdM boys' tennis

Williams, Gordon and Downing have been key pieces for Sea Kings, who play rival University in Wednesday's CIF title match.

May 28, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • From left, Henry Gordon, Chaz Downing and Carson Williams have helped the Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team reach the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match.
From left, Henry Gordon, Chaz Downing and Carson Williams… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

They are young, but what they lack in years they make up for in tennis acumen.

They have distinctly different styles, but all three of them have been victorious against the vast majority of their opponents.

Meet sophomore Carson Williams and freshmen Henry Gordon and Chaz Downing. You can call them young guns for the No. 2-seeded Corona del Mar High tennis team, which plays top-seeded defending champion University in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match at 11 a.m. Wednesday at The Claremont Club.

This talented trio of underclassmen has helped CdM earn its first title match appearance in nine years.

Gordon (ranked No. 15 in the Southern California 16s) and Downing (No. 6 in the 14s) have been stud freshmen all year for Coach Brian Ricker's squad. Gordon has a 50-12 overall record in singles and doubles for CdM this season, and Downing is 49-8. And their presence causes a ripple effect, too.

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"Not only do those two top-ranked kids cause a lot of problems in singles, but then it allows you to bump good tennis players who would normally be singles players into doubles," Ricker said. "Alex Murray is a good example of someone who's played four years of doubles at CdM. Then you have good athletes who you can mold into very good doubles players ... it's a double whammy.

"At practice, we have so many good players, so the senior doubles players who are now pretty good tennis players, the Zachs [Williams] and Dans [Anastos], they get to hit against Henry and Chaz. Henry and Chaz like hitting against the older boys because they hit harder. Even if they can't beat them in singles, they kind of hit a different ball with a little more pace behind it. It just makes for a very competitive situation in practice."

Both players are extremely comfortable playing singles, but versatile enough to be great in doubles as well. They also have fit in well to the team format of high school tennis, much different than the grind of United States Tennis Assn. junior tournaments where a player competes solely for himself and rankings points.

"I like it better," said Gordon, who advanced to the CIF Individuals doubles semifinals with Murray before losing to the eventual champions from Palm Desert. "Tournaments, there's a lot of pressure on just me. [In high school] you're in it with the team. It just seems more fun."

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