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Valencia breaks through for Division 3 title
CLAREMONT – For three consecutive seasons, Valencia coach Mike McCall had to stand idly by, second-place CIF-SS plaque in hand, and watch as his coaching counterpart reveled in a celebratory post-match Gatorade bath.
On Wednesday afternoon, it finally was his turn.
"All I have to say is," he said, "how sweet it is."
In their fourth finals appearance in as many years, the Tigers (23-2) won the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 boy tennis championship with an 11-7 victory over Whitney of Cerritos on Wednesday afternoon at The Claremont Club.
"What really makes this a great win is that our doubles kids got seven sets today," McCall said, "Over the last four years, we've really been a singles-dominated team, so I'm proud of the fact that we played a really balanced match.
"The fact we got contributions from singles and doubles makes it that much more gratifying."
A three-match doubles sweep from Valencia's Lindsey Youngquist and Shadrin Andres headlined a trio of duos that each took at least two sets from the Wildcats (22-3).
Aside from the seven doubles victories, Tigers standout Jonathan Hammel powered his way through three 6-0 sets and Matt Pham added a second-round 6-3 victory.
"It's great, just great," Hammel said of winning the title. "This win just shows how far we've come to get over the hump in our fourth year here. Every year we couldn't get over the hump, but we put it all together as a team and pulled it out today."
After taking four of the first six sets, two Valencia doubles teams dropped tiebreakers in the second round as Whitney remained within two entering the third.
Holding a 9-4 advantage in the final round, the Tigers' No. 3 doubles team of Michael Im and Ryan Mangosong sealed the championship with a 6-4 victory over Alex Pham and Mitchell Hoang.
"Hearing the cheers and knowing we'd finally won and seeing the guys jumping on the court was great," said Hammel, who was preparing for his final set during Im and Mangosong's victory. "(Winning a team championship) is on top of everything else because it's more special when you can share a championship with your team."