Local teams off to strong start in CIF boys tennis

CCA senior Daniel Patel teamed with Praneet Varade to win three doubles points vs. LCC.
(Ken Grosse)

Led by No. 1 Open Division seed Torrey Pines, North Coast teams played to seed in Tuesday’s opening round of the 2019 CIF Boys Tennis Championships.

Coach Skip Strode’s Falcons stormed past eighth seed Eastlake, 15-3, and are so loaded with talent they were able to win handily despite not having one of the county’s best singles players, Eeshan Talluri, in their lineup. With Talluri doing a presentation for one of his classes, Torrey Pines still snagged seven of nine singles points as Matt Sah and Michael Hao swept three matches apiece by a collective game score of 30-8.

Strode’s defending CIF champions are now 18-1 on the season and will host No. 4 Bishop’s in Thursday’s semi-final with the winner advancing to the finals Friday afternoon (2 p.m.) at Balboa Tennis Club.

Eyeing a finals rematch with their Avocado West League rivals is second-seeded Canyon Crest. The Ravens are 20-3 overall but two of those defeats came at the hands of Torrey Pines. Coach Chris Black’s CCA squad defeated yet another Avo West representative, seventh-seeded La Costa Canyon, 12-6, in its own first round outing, relying on their superior doubles play to down the Mavericks for the third time this spring.

Mitchell Davis
LCC's big-serving No. 1 singles player Mitchell Davis shows his finesse. Ken Grosse

“Knowing how strong Torrey Pines was going to be, our goal this year was to get the No. 2 seed and we got that,” said CCA Assistant Coach Jesse Steinberg. “Now, after reaching that goal, we talked about how important it would be not to overlook anyone in CIF play and, hopefully, win our first two matches and roll into the final with some momentum.

“La Costa was a dangerous first round opponent. With the high quality singles players they have, we felt LCC’s seeding really didn’t reflect how good they are—they are definitely a top five team in San Diego and maybe top four.” Although La Costa Canyon’s No. 1 and 2 singles players, senior Mitchell Davis and junior Erik McCutchen, won five of their six matches, freshman Zack Pellouchoud earned two singles points for CCA while the doubles tandems of Daniel Petroff-Praneet Varade, Daniel Patel-Manit Bishnoi and Daniel Lane-Nathan Zhang went undefeated.

“Our doubles teams are so strong that they’re typically good for eight or nine points on most days and even on a bad day, our singles players will get at least two points,” said Steinberg. “There’s always a little nervousness when it’s a win or go home situation, like it was today, but for a team that’s not too deep, it’s going to be really tough for them to pull an upset.”

In Thursday’s semi-final for their half of the bracket, the Ravens will host the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal clash between third-seeded Del Norte and sixth-seeded St. Augustine.

In CIF Division I first round action, No. 5 seed Cathedral Catholic eliminated Bonita Vista, 15-3 and now takes on No. 4 seed Vincent Memorial in Thursday’s quarterfinal. Also in D-I, one of the closest matches of the day fell to eighth-seeded San Dieguito which slipped by ninth seed San Marcos in a tiebreaker.

After the two schools each accumulated nine points in regulation competition, the decision came down to games won where host SDA prevailed, 84-78. Keying the outcome for the Mustangs was senior Jacob Bear who captured all three of his singles matches by a combined score of 18-5.

“We beat San Marcos twice during the season but they switched their lineup a bit and they’ve just gotten a lot better,” said San Dieguito Head Coach Deb Abrahamson. “Jacob made all the difference out there today. He has such drive and is always working hard to get better and better every time out.”

The going will not get any easier for the Mustangs who now must travel Thursday to face top-seeded La Jolla Country Day, an 18-0 first round winner over Rancho Buena Vista. Thursday’s two winners will also square off in Friday at Balboa Tennis Club.

Zack Pellouchoud
Freshman Zack Pellouchoud won two singles matches for Canyon Crest Academy. Ken Grosse
Erik McCutchen
Hard-charging junior Erik McCutchen won a pair of singles points for LCC. Ken Grosse
Jacob Bear
Senior Jacob Bear starred in San Dieguito's first round victory. Ken Grosse