When it came to the crowded Avocado West sports schedule, the place to be Tuesday was the Canyon Crest Academy tennis courts where the league, and possibly the section’s, top two teams squared off in a match that provided plenty of high level action and just enough drama to make it a must see.
In the end, four-time defending CIF champion and currently No. 1-ranked Torrey Pines figuratively held serve by turning aside a spirited effort by Canyon Crest, 11-7.
“I’m super proud of our boys,” said CCA Head Coach Chris Black following the contest. “We broke it down before the match and I think that we kind of exceeded our expectations.
“They’re going to be the team to beat when it comes to the CIF Championship but I think we might have had the No. 1 and 2 teams out there today.”
As anticipated, Coach Skip Strode’s Falcons ruled singles, capturing 8-of-9 points with their top two players, seniors Matt Sah and Eshan Talluri sweeping their three opponents. Freshman Zack Pellouchoud earned the only singles point for Canyon Crest.
“Sah’s just very solid,” said Strode. “He hits the ball harder than anyone else right now, his backhand is very good and he moves great.
“Eshan is a really good player as well and showed what he’s capable of, especially at the end of his second match with Derek Sung. He wants to play next year at Texas and we’ve been trying to get him to be more aggressive. Today that caused him to make a bunch of unforced errors. As that match got to the key moments, I just told him to calm down, be solid and rally with him. He took control.”
The Ravens got the best of doubles but Torrey Pines was able to secure three points, two coming from the duo of Alex Stafford and Max Pogorelov. CCA’s top pair, senior Luke Williams and freshman Bryce Nakashima, who will be a definite threat to win the CIF individual doubles competition, posted a 3-0 mark.
Black’s squad made Torrey work for its victory. Down, 4-2, after the first rotation, the Ravens dug in and at one time actually led all three singles matches in the second. For a few minutes late, before Sah and then Talluri turned away their challengers, CCA was in position to potentially send the match to its final rotation at 6-6. But the talent and experience of Strode’s outfit prevailed in an encounter that appeared to pit at least near the best lineup each can field.
The two teams will lock up in a regular season rematch next Wednesday at Torrey Pines and then potentially in the CIF Playoffs. For now, Black is satisfied knowing he’s got a roster that seems to have improved from a season ago.
“We knew that we were going up against a team in Torrey Pines that is better than it was last year,” he said. “Being able to play them as competitively as we did indicates that our group is better as well.”
Strode essentially concurred. “I thought we played pretty good but they were better than I thought they would be.”