by Mitch Lehman
DAVID JUST BEAT GOLIATH – literally,” one fan said at the CIF Division II Tennis Championships at the Claremont Club.
San Marino toppling Palm Desert? That was yet to come, but family, fans and friends had just witnessed a harbinger of that eventual result when Titan sophomore Danny Gealer broke open what was a 4-4 match against 2012 CIF individual quarterfinalist Abe Hewko, one of Palm Desert’s two top singles guns, delivering a key point towards San Marino’s 13-5 victory – the sixty-ninth CIF championship in the school’s history. David’s, uhm, Daniel’s win over Hewko gave San Marino a 5-2 advantage but provided a burst of energy that can’t be quantified by a number.
That Gealer gave up what appeared to be a foot in height was what spawned the David vs. Goliath analogy, but head Coach Melwyn Pereira probably doesn’t care what motivates his team – as long as they are motivated.
With the win, San Marino and Pereira completed the ‘School Year Sweep,’ claiming the CIF Division II championships in both girls’ and boys’ tennis during the 2012-13 calendar. It’s the third time the feat has been pulled off in school history. Hall of Fame Coach Maureen Bryant won the girls’ title in 1986 and was followed to the top tier of the podium six months later by boys’ Coach Brian Chambers. In 1998-99, Bryant – who was in attendance at the tournament as a member of the CIF Tennis Committee – completed the double herself.
Gealer and senior James Wade ran roughshod on the Aztec’s highly touted, nationally ranked singles players – Hewko and teammate Austin Rapp – sweeping the four matches played among the four competitors while winning twenty-four sets to their opponents’ eight.
“This was shocking,” said Pereira. “Palm Desert is very strong and for our singles players to get seven points is tremendous. They carried the day.”
While Gealer and Wade each won all three of their singles matches, junior Vincent Cheng defeated Ian Murphy for the seventh singles point of the day.
Which meant all the doubles duos needed to do was pick up two or three, depending on total set scores, and the Titans were more than up to the task. Robert Carter and Ryan Cheng won all three of their matches by scores of 6-3, 6-2 and 6-0; Nicholas Splichal and Derek Chen were 2-1, with scores of 6-7, 7-5 and 6-1 while Timothy Duong and Mark Lew battled gamely, defeating Palm Desert’s Connor Rapp and Sebastian Gomez by a score of 7-6 while dropping their other two matches.
As the competition wound down, Pereira yawned the yawn typically reserved for overworked first-responders and emergency room personnel fresh off a third shift.
“Did you sleep last night?” Pereira was asked.
“A little,” he replied, with a distinct emphasis on the word “little.”
“I am very proud of our team – everyone,” said Pereira. “We hoped that our strength would be in doubles and the singles players came through. It was awesome.”
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