|High Desert Tennis Association|
Cougars squeeze past Hawks, stay unbeaten
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
VICTORVILLE — At the midway point of the tennis season, a familiar heavyweight sits atop the Desert Sky League standings.
Granite Hills edged Silverado on the road Tuesday in a tied match that was decided on total games, 9-9 (87-78). The reigning league champions, who have won four of the last six titles, are unbeaten after four DSL matches.
"All that means is the worst we can finish is 4-4," coach Pat Jenkins said. "We're not taking anything at all for granted. If anybody out there on the court does, I have plenty of guys that are willing to play."
Jenkins kept all 32 kids from tryouts on the roster this season. The lineup features a blend of experience and promising young talent.
Leading the charge at No. 1 singles is senior Patrick McCray, who unofficially wields the most powerful serve in the High Desert. He was clocked at 120 miles per hour — two years ago.
But that dominant serve failed McCray against Silverado’s top player, Ben Zagala. In a probable preview of the league singles championship, Zagala prevailed, 7-5.
Borrowing a teammate’s racket with different grip size and string tension, McCray piled up double faults in the swirling winds. He double-faulted four times in the first game alone and on game point with the score tied at 5.
"Normally, holding serve isn't a problem," McCray said. "Usually I can pound my first serves."
Both players had trouble holding their serves in the unpredictable wind, but they still managed to put together some exciting rallies. Serving for a 5-4 lead on game point, Zagala clipped the tape on an approach shot and then blasted a running forehand cross-court.
The senior was the only singles player to sweep. Silverado’s new No. 1 doubles team of Adonis Marcus and Tim Le also took three sets. Coach Suzi Paxton had to do some lineup shuffling due to ineligible players.
The Hawks adjusted well, but it wasn't enough to prevent another close defeat at home. They dropped their DSL opener to Barstow last week, 10-8.
McCray rebounded from the loss to Zagala with a pair of quick victories, 6-2 and 6-1. The lopsided scores came in handy for the deciding tiebreaker.
"It doesn't make it any better," Paxton said of the narrow margin. "A loss is a loss. It was a disappointing loss."
On the flip side, the Cougars have set themselves up for a repeat after two close victories. They beat Burroughs at home last week, 10-8.
"We're starting to come together," said McCray, a doubles champ last year. "I think if we keep playing how we have been and doubles keep getting two out of three each time — singles usually does pretty well — we won't have trouble to keep on winning."
Gerald Tang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-6281.