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Los Al wins on tiebreaker, advances to semifinals

CONTRIBUTOR WRITER

LOS ALAMITOS – Tensions were high as the top-seeded Los Alamitos boys tennis team squared off with Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS playoffs.

The teams were tied at six sets apiece at the end of two rounds, and with two doubles sets going to the visiting Panthers early in the third, the Griffins were in dire need of help from their singles players.

Vatsal Bajpai delivered a clutch victory over Dariush Jalali, 6-4, and the Griffins squeaked past the Panthers in the Division 1 match. The teams split the 18 sets evenly, but the Griffins (18-0) won the total games tie-breaker, 80-73.

Los Alamitos will host San Marino in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Bajpai recovered from a lapse in his second set against Peninsula’s Connor Hance. Hance, who is the USTA’s top-ranked 18-and-under junior singles player, rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win 6-4, helping the Panthers (14-8) tie the match at 6.

“We needed that big time,” Griffins coach Jordan Bridge said of Bajpai’s bounce-back win. “He’s been a silent warrior out there. He stuck to his game, and he trusted himself. We couldn’t even get to 9-all without that win.”

Bajpai said his goal was to forget about the past and treat his third set as if the match was just beginning.

“Going into the third round, I treated it as a first round,” he said. “I was just trying to get my groove back, trying to get my confidence back up.”

“My teammates were so loud. They gave me so much support, and I think we played a great third round.”

Riley Smith was also instrumental for the Griffins. The junior dropped just four games while winning his three singles sets.

Ethan Kolsky and Kyle McCann swept their doubles matches for the Griffins, including a key win over Shoma Kishimoto and Sahm Irvine in the third round to help clinch the win.

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CIF-SS BOYS TENNIS PLAYOFFS

DIVISION 1
Quarterfinals, Monday
Los Alamitos 9, Peninsula 9 (Los Alamitos wins on games, 80-73)
San Marino 12, University 6
Harvard-Westlake 12, Northwood 6
Beckman 11, Beverly Hills 7

Semifinals, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
San Marino at Los Alamitos
Harvard-Westlake at Beckman

DIVISION 2
Quarterfinals, Monday
Santa Margarita 10, West Ranch 8
Sage Hill 12, Walnut 6
San Clemente 14, Diamond Bar 4
Arcadia 12, Crean Lutheran 6

Semifinals, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Santa Margarita at Sage Hill
Arcadia at San Clemente

DIVISION 3
Quarterfinals, Monday
Canyon 12, South Torrance 6
Cypress 12, Cerritos 6
Valencia 13, Sunny Hills 5
Great Oak 11, Long Beach Wilson 7

Semifinals, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Cypress at Canyon
Great Oak at Valencia

DIVISION 4
Quarterfinals, Monday
Laguna Beach 11, Garden Grove 7
Rowland 14, Maranatha 4
Chino Hills 11, Westminster 7
Redlands 13, La Quinta 5

Semifinals, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Laguna Beach at Rowland
Chino Hills at Redlands

DIVISION 5
Quarterfinals, Monday
Heritage 12, Montclair 6
Hemet 11, Downey 7
Arroyo 13, Alta Loma 5
Warren 12, Beaumont 6

Semifinals, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Heritage at Hemet
Warren at Arroyo


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