|High Desert Tennis Association|
Sultans make an early exit
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
For complete coverage of the high school tennis playoffs, check out the Friday, May 11, 2007 Daily Press.
HESPERIA — Team tennis. It’s a bit of an oxymoron.
That was painfully apparent to Sultana senior Tenis Taing in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Div. III playoffs on Thursday. He did his job against Redlands East Valley, dominating three sets.
But when the points were tallied, the Sultans came up short in a 10-8 loss.
"It’s frustrating, we felt like we could have beaten this team," said Taing, who finished the year with a 53-1 record. "But a couple guys couldn't step up. They're a great team. There’s not much you can do about it."
The other Sultana singles players went a combined 0-6 against the Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in the Citrus Belt League.
On the doubles side, Max Bishop and Roberto Archuleta swept their three sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1. But Sultana’s other doubles squads went 2-4.
In a key upset at the end of the day, Wildcats coach Ken Whitmer substituted Corey Matthews to team with John Whitmer at No. 3 doubles. The tandem defeated Sultana’s No. 2 duo of Josh Buetow and Dallin Haywood, 6-4.
It was one of several critical victories in the final round that saw the Wildcats keep their poise with the pressure increased.
REV (14-9) played a challenging nonleague schedule this year against some of the top-ranked opponents in the division. In five of their matches, the Wildcats entered the final round with the score tied, only to lose narrowly.
The experience appeared to have made a difference, as some of the Sultans players unraveled in their matches despite jumping to early leads.
"This is where all those tough matches paid off," said Whitmer, "because they were confident enough."
Coming off a Mojave River League championship, the Sultans (12-4) were confident, too. They just were short on experience.
Taing, Bishop, Archuleta and Buetow were the only seniors in the lineup.
"They're very young, and their mental game is really young," coach Wayne Elliott said. "We've had a lot of close ones where we've been on top. We didn't get it this time."
Taing made a valiant effort to keep it close, sweeping three wins at 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. The powerful hitter seemed to elevate his game to playoff level, with the ball exploding off his racket even more than usual.
In the marquee matchup, Taing overwhelmed REV’s Philip Suh, the Citrus Belt League singles champion. Taing rattled off the first five games of the set with punishing groundstrokes and occasional volleys. On triple break point, he blasted a laser backhand that barely cleared the net for a 4-0 lead.
Gerald Tang can be reached at email@example.com or 951-6281.