Singles play proves to be difference in CHS boys tennis win

The “Ides of March” provided a warm, sunny day for boys tennis. The Wolfpack took on the Palm Springs Indians in a final tune up match before league play. Claremont took all but one singles match to win a close one, 10-8.

Claremont came into the season with high expectations following a solid 2012 campaign, during which the Wolfpack were ousted in the 2nd round of CIF. Against the Indians on Friday, the Leahy brothers, Alan and Andrew, led the Wolfpack. Cameron Lorek slotted into the 3rd seed in Claremont’s singles lineup. Chaska Yamane provided cover as the alternate for the match.

The doubles pairings have been questionable in the last few matches for Claremont, and coach Clint Rees has experimented with his players to find the optimal duo. “We lost too many doubles sets in our last match against Troy, so we are still trying to get some experience and continuity there.”

Rees put Nathan Morgan and Damion Rodgers at the 3rd seed, then put Alex Zhang and Naveen Mohideen at #1, and Henry Diep and Rish Citre at #2. Rees commented on what seemed to be a disorganized lineup. “I can’t say right now which is our best pairing. Since it is still preseason, I mixed it up a little bit today to figure out which of my guys have the best chemistry on the court.”

Senior Alan Leahy began the day against Palm Springs’ #1 seed PJ Keye. After going up 5-1, he allowed Keye 2 games before sealing the set, 6-3. The shock on his teammates’ faces was apparent, as they wondered aloud how Leahy managed to allow his opponent to get on the scoreboard for the first time all season. Leahy bounced back to win his next 2 sets 6-0, 6-0 against Palm Springs #2 Andrew Nelson, and 3rd-seeded Shahriar Seyed-Emami.

Andrew Leahy bested his brother by only allowing a combined one game to his 3 opponents. Freshman Leahy defeated Nelson 6-1, then 6-0 and 6-0. Junior Cameron Lorek was the only Wolfpack singles player to drop a set on the day. Lorek won 6-0 against Seyed-Emami, then 6-2 against Nelson. Lorek then faced Keye, who fought back to 5-5, then won the final 2 games of the set to win, 7-5.

Claremont doubles partners Morgan and Rodgers had a strong day. Morgan/Rodgers defeated #3 Indians pairing Jake Stebbins/Jon Frayon in a marathon set, 6-4. They then sealed Claremont’s 10th and winning set against the Indians’ Sigi Gonzalez/Jared Bongcaras. The rest of Claremont’s matches were a formality, as Claremont had enough to win by the 2nd round of sets. Palm Springs’ top doubles team Gil Capistrano and Brandon Reese won all of their sets to provide consolation.

The Wolfpack’s schedule will likely be easier from now on, as coach Rees made a point of securing early season matches against difficult teams to prepare for another Sierra League title. “Our league matches are usually not as tough as our preseason, so it should get easier for us. We have one guy who is out for a little longer, Konrad [Lorek], and Harsh [Rambhatla] who is also not here today.” The Wolfpack travels to South Hills on Tuesday to begin league play. Check out Friday’s COURIER for an update on that match!

–Chris Oakley


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