by Mitch Lehman
HEAVEN FORBID this become commonplace, or maybe this reporter’s silent dream for an end to all the over-celebrating in athletics has finally come true. Whatever the case, the San Marino High School boys’ tennis team won yet another CIF tennis championship last Friday at The Claremont Club without so much as a peep, defeating Palm Desert by a final score of 13-5 in a rematch of last year’s Division II title game that ended in the same score, but without nearly as much pomp.
“The team played really well today,” (under) stated head Coach Melwyn Pereira, who completed his second consecutive ‘school-year sweep’ in as many attempts. The Lady Titan varsity tennis team has also won CIF titles the past two years. He is also a perfrct 5-for-5 at SMHS, winning with the boys in his first effort three seasons ago.
Even the postgame ‘water bucket over the head routine’ was a yawner as Pereira detected the potential culprits long before they arrived at their destination. Oh well. Maybe this team is just built to perform on the court.
And perform they did. Junior Danny Gealer, freshman Charles Deng and sophomore Derek Chan swept all nine singles points, overwhelming the Aztecs in singles games 55-16, if it would have mattered, and the Titans just needed a doubles point to make their third straight visit to the champions pavilion for the trophy presentation. Senior Ropbert Carter – who was moved to doubles for that express purpose – teamed with sophomore Ryan Cheng and soundly swept their three opponents. Senior Nicholas splichal and freshman Connor Lee picked up the other win as San Marino collected their 25th CIF tennis championship in school history, 71st overall.
Splichal and Lee won a tiebreak to defeat Palm Desert’s Cameron McDonald and Brad Cumming 7-5 to all but clinch the affair.
Sophomore Arthur Wicke and junior Tim Duong rounded out the starting lineup for the Titans, who advanced to the CIF Regionals.
The atmoshpere in Claremont – San Marino West, in the tennis world – paled to that of a year ago when Palm Desert players and parents alike displayed enough chutzpah for the entire Southern Section until the younger Titans began systematically dismantling their highly touted, nationally ranked singles players. One of them – senior Austin Rapp, who is headed to UCLA on a tennis scholarship – missed the match after badly spraining his ankle earlier in the week. Doubtful it would have matter, and Rapp’s absence brought a subdued atmoshphere to the procedings.
San Marino – now 15-1 overall – could be set on a collision course with University High School and their legions of supporters, who were all aflutter Friday while defeating Harvard Westlake for the Division I championship.
San Marino defeated Del Norte on Tuesday by a final score of 7-0 in the college-style format of the CIF Regionals. The Titans advanced to the second round.
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