|High Desert Tennis Association|
Cougars, Combes win titles
Combes takes singles title; Hom and McCray win doubles
By C.J. DAFT
APPLE VALLEY — Although they haven't played together very often this season, the Granite Hills doubles team of junior Patrick McCray and senior Mike Hom have played well when given the chance.
The success continued on Friday as they got by Silverado’s Ben Zagala and Lester Fernandez 7-5, 7-5 in the doubles championship of the Desert Sky League Individual Finals.
"The thing we tried the entire match was to stay aggressive," McCray said. "We wanted to keep the pressure on them."
Silverado coach Suzi Paxton said that the Hawks' doubles team lost four games in the first set due to double faulting. Both teams advanced to the finals despite being unseeded in the tournament.
In the singles final, with Silverado’s Nico Combes serve working very well, he easily defeated Granite Hills' Gustavo Rodrigues 6-2, 6-2 in what was a highly anticipated match.
"I played really good," Combes said. "It was my best match of the year. My serve was really on today. I had a couple of double faults, but I think my first serve percentage was high."
The singles and doubles teams that played in the finals will advance to the CIF-Southern Section Individual tournament which begins May 19 at the University of Redlands.
McCray and Hom, who only teamed together to win the Cops'N'Jock Scorpion Invitational during the preseason and for a sweep of Victor Valley on Wednesday, played a back-and-forth first set before winning. In the second set, they came back from a 4-1 deficit to win.
"In the first set, we stayed close the whole time, and at the end when we got off the break we were able to finish," McCray said. "In the second set, we got down 1-4 and rallied back. We became aggressive and got the last break point again."
The duo said that one of their strengths is the fact that they volley against each other a lot in practice.
To get to the finals, the Granite Hills team disposed of Barstow’s Sam Barnhart and Danny Lugo, the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament, in the semifinals 6-3, 6-2.
Last year, Hom teamed with McCray’s older brother, Chris, and lost in three sets to Barstow’s Lugo and Eric Winston in the finals.
Barnhart and Lugo ended up finishing in third place after defeating Silverado’s Tim Le and Stephen Patch 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Fernandez and Zagala will advance to the CIF-Individual tournament as a doubles team after having not played together in a match this season. They were the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 singles players this season.
Last season, Fernandez advanced to the CIF-SS Individual tournament as a singles player after losing to Barstow’s Dave Reddy in the individual finals.