Cypress' Ben Lee hits a forehand shot during a CIF-SS Semifinal match against Canyon on Wednesday.

Cypress earns return trip to D3 final


ANAHEIM – After graduating seven seniors from last year’s team that reached the CIF-SS boys tennis finals, the road back to the finals looked to be a difficult one this year for Cypress.

A matchup with top-seeded Canyon in the semifinals presented the final hurdle between the Centurions and a chance to win the title that eluded them a year ago.

Behind a phenomenal doubles effort, Cypress handed the Comanches their first loss of the season, 10-8, on Wednesday in a Division 3 playoff game at Canyon High.

Cypress will face Empire League rival Valencia in the championship game Friday at Claremont Club. The Tigers won the teams’ two league meetings this year by scores of 14-4 and 11-7.

The Centurions (21-3) won all nine of the doubles sets against the Comanches (20-1). Darrus Lee and Habin Gu did not drop a game in their three sets.

The decisive set came from the No. 2 tandem of Anthony Doo and Junha Gu, who defeated Chris Totoiu and Brandon Park, 6-3, to clinch the match.

David Hwang and Adam Pham also swept their matches, including a tight 6-4 win over Simon Zhou and Stanislav Spassoff in the third round.

“I didn’t want to pressure anybody, but we told each other ‘this is where we have to win,’” Doo said of Cypress’ doubles. “I never expected this result. It’s pretty surreal.”

Canyon’s lineup boasts three USTA tournament-experienced singles players in Lyndon Bui, Scott Nguyen and Derik Nguyen. Cypress stacked its doubles teams, hoping to squeeze at least one win out of its top singles player, Ben Lee.

Lee came through with a pivotal 7-5 win over Scott Nguyen in the first round. The junior’s play incited a surge of belief throughout the Cypress roster.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Ben,” Centurions coach Joe Paul said. “To go all the way against players that on paper are better than him and that are more tournament-experienced than him, he went in and showed that he is the true leader of our singles team.”

The Centurions are looking forward to facing Valencia, which beat Great Oak, 11-7, in the other semifinal, in Friday’s final.

“Valencia is definitely in my mind,” Doo said. “I want to beat them. Third time is the charm. We’ve really got it this time.”

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