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University, CdM fall in Div. 1 semifinals

STAFF WRITER

The walkway from the parking lot to the tennis courts was flooded with students, parents and administrators, all jostling for a vantage point along the fences before the CIF-SS boys tennis semifinal officially got underway Wednesday.

University fed off the crowd’s electricity early, jumping out to leads on five of the six courts at one point in the first round.

As the crowd subsided and the noise faded, the momentum slowly shifted in favor of visiting Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates.

The third-seeded Panthers weathered University’s initial onslaught, stole a pair of games on the doubles side, and used a five-point first round to edge out the second-seeded Trojans, 11-7, in a Division 1 semifinal at University High.

Peninsula (22-2) advances to face top-seeded San Marino (19-2) in the championship match on Friday at the Claremont Club.

It is the first time since 2005 an Orange County team will not play in the Division 1 finale.

“I never would have thought – given the pieces we lost – we would’ve gotten here,” Trojans coach John Kessler said. “So this has been awesome. Credit to (Peninsula). They withstood that environment early and won two of the doubles sets (in the first round).”

Having lost to University (20-2) in March, Peninsula was at full strength with Ojai singles champ, Connor Hance, back in its lineup. The Panthers went 8-1 in singles, sweeping the first two rounds.

No two points proved to be bigger for Peninsula, though, than a pair of come-from-behind wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles in the opening round. The Panthers used those wins to jump out to a 5-1 lead.

Josh Piatos and Hans Hwang swept at No. 3 doubles for the Trojans, but with the Tommy Wang-JT Joens pair and the Patryk Kozlowski-Hudson Graf team combining to go 3-3, University dropped its first match to Peninsula since the 2006 season.

Also in Division 1:

San Marino 11, Corona del Mar 7: Senior Pedro Fernandez del Valle swept his singles sets, but the Sea Kings were unable to edge out the top-seeded Titans in the semifinal. Corona del Mar qualified for the SoCal Regional by finishing in the Division 1 final four.

In Division 2:

Crean Lutheran 13, San Clemente 5: The Saints advanced to their first CIF-SS final with a win over the fourth-seeded Tritons. Crean Lutheran will play No. 2 Arcadia on Friday in the final.

In Division 3:

Cypress 13, Cerritos 5: The Centurions advanced to their third consecutive final with a win over the Dons. Cypress will play Empire League rival Valencia for the second consecutive year in the championship. The teams split their two regular-season meetings.

Valencia 10, Yorba Linda 8: By edging out the Mustangs, the Tigers will get a chance to defend the Division 3 crown. Valencia snuck past the Centurions by a single game (83-82) in last year’s epic championship match.

In Division 4:

Laguna Beach 10, Mark Keppel 8: The second-seeded Breakers, who won their second consecutive match by a 10-8 score, will play top-seeded Redlands on Friday.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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