Codd, Canyon Crest boys go back-to-back at CIF Open Division Tennis Championship
Powered by doubles domination and a pair of superb singles victories by senior Jackson Codd, the Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) boys tennis team captured its second consecutive CIF Open Division title, outlasting Bishop’s, 10-8, Saturday, April 22 at San Diego’s Barnes Tennis Center.
CCA, which also defeated Bishop’s in last year’s finale, jumped out to a 4-2 lead by sweeping doubles in the first rotation and picking up an additional point with Codd’s, 6-3, victory over the Knights’ Aden Dorros, who will be Codd’s teammate next year at Bowdoin College (ME).
The Ravens never trailed from that point although Bishop’s snagged a doubles point and narrowed the gap to 6-5 with a single match remaining in the second rotation. That last match featured Codd and Rex Harrison, who had defeated Codd in a tight contest at this event in 2022. After falling behind 3-0, Harrison drew even before eventually succumbing 6-4, despite a marvelous back-and-forth exhibition over the final game.
Canyon Crest then clinched its second Open Division banner by methodically garnering all three doubles points in the third session. The Ravens have a well-deserved reputation for their doubles prowess but first-year Head Coach Kevin Brown, who led the CCA girls to the Open crown in the fall, made it clear that this day belonged to his senior singles star.
“Honestly, Jackson Codd won this match for us,” said Brown afterward. “We needed 10 points to win, figured we could get all the doubles points and have Jackson get the other. For him to win the two singles was incredible, particularly the way the end of his match vs. Rex played out—the pressure couldn’t have been any greater on Jackson. He put the team on his back today and gave us some wiggle room.”
For the wiry, explosive 6-2 Codd, the section championships were a bit of a coming out party. A versatile performer who can play the power game with his enormous serve and forehand or grind it out from the baseline, he has been a four-year varsity member for CCA who has somehow always competed in the background, overshadowed by his CIF individual and team championship-winning sister Katie (now at Duke) or other standout teammates like last spring’s CIF individual boys’ singles titlist Zach Pellouchoud who’s moved on to Cal Poly. He definitely shined in the spotlight Saturday, flashing different aspects of his arsenal in the process.
“I think my serve was really important again Aden,” said Codd. “I wanted to get in as many first serves as possible and capitalize when I had opportunities.
“I wanted to finish out points quickly and tried to be aggressive getting in on his short balls and second serves, looking for winners instead of staying back. I felt like that was working.”
Facing Harrison became a mental chess match after the Bishop’s lefty had erased the advantage Codd had built after prevailing in the first three games. “When it got back to even, I knew I had to focus on every point, making serves, running patterns I’d practiced and just staying the course,” Codd said. “I got up a break and at 5-4, I realized it was exactly the same score as last year and I didn’t want what happened then to happen again.
“It was extremely competitive and could have gone either way. It was definitely nice to be our No. 1 player and deliver good results for the team.”
While it was Codd’s brilliant play that demanded the attention this time, the Ravens’ continued doubles supremacy was hard to overlook. The all-senior pairings of Ryan Atwell-Johnny Pham and Kevin Wang-Kyle Villeponteau both went undefeated and a fifth senior, Franklin Liu, picked up points with two different partners.
The Atwell-Pham combo at No. 1 is unorthodox but undoubtedly productive. Brown calls Atwell “the voice of the team,” and he’s consistently the most demonstrative on the court. Pham, literally self-taught, is a brains over brawn type who has a knack for winning.
“Ryan and Johnny played lights out today,” praised Brown. “But Bishop’s is really solid doubles-wise and for our guys to come away with eight of nine points shows just how talented they are.”
One of the interesting sidebars Saturday was the fact that Brown actually made fairly substantial alterations to the Ravens lineup at the 11th hour, based primarily on input from the team. The suggestions led to moving Liu and Villeponteau from singles to doubles and putting Zach Amendolagine and Kevin Ma behind Codd on the singles ladder. The revamped cast obviously got the job done but may be more reflective of the 61-year-old Brown’s lack of ego, the type of dynamic he’s developed in his new position and how seamlessly he’s adjusted to taking over for his predecessor Chris Black who constructed its foundation.
“The decision was made Friday and the players made the suggestion because in their minds it was the right thing to do for the team,” said Brown, whose roster included six of nine starters from last year’s playoff squad (Bishop’s had all nine). “They knew it was going to be close and getting input from a bunch of smart guys who know their opponents really helped.”
Maybe as much as having the best player in the arena on your side of the net.
The CIF Individual Championships will be contested May 8-13 at Balboa Tennis Club. Canyon Crest will advance, along with Bishop’s, to the CIF Southern California Regional Tournament at the Claremont Club in Pomona, May 19-20.
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