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Los Al survives another close one, advances to final
Pens and scratch paper were at a premium on Los Alamitos’ tennis courts Wednesday afternoon when it became apparent that a place in the CIF-SS Division 1 championship match could come down to the number of games won.
Neither the top-seeded Griffins nor San Marino could grasp a lead after the first or second rounds, putting all the emphasis on the final round of matches, and as it turned out, the day’s last set.
After starting with a critical win on the doubles side, Los Alamitos’ Brian Bales and Naara Shin capped a memorable afternoon with a 7-6 win on the doubles side, giving the Griffins the decisive 10th point in a 10-8 semifinals thriller at Los Alamitos High.
The Griffins (18-0), who won their quarterfinal against Peninsula on Monday on the total games tiebreaker, advance to play third-seeded Harvard-Westlake (18-1) in Friday’s championship match at Claremont Club at 11 a.m.
“Such high energy on both sides, so much fun to be apart of a match like that,” Los Alamitos coach Jordan Bridge said. “You can’t ask for much more.”
With five of the six sets in the third round completed, Los Alamitos held a 9-8 edge with their No. 2 doubles team still playing Daniel Abrams and Timothy Duong, San Marino’s No. 3 tandem. Word had spread throughout the courts, however, that a 9-9 draw would end in favor of San Marino based on games.
Trailing 0-3 early and 3-5 later in the set, Bales and Shin broke consecutive San Marino serves and rallied to win in a tiebreaker, inciting a boisterous celebration by the Los Alamitos players and fans.
“They believed in each other and they knew that they were both strong individuals,” Bridge added. “They came together as a team and got those clutch points. Every finishing point we needed, they got for us.”
Bales and Shin also closed the first round with a 7-6 (8-6) tiebreak victory that allowed Los Alamitos to tie the match at 3-3.
“There was a lot on the line, so I knew had to keep calm and grind it out,” Bales said. “Of course my teammates were there to support me, which helped in the long run. I’m just happy to move on to the finals.”
Also in Division 1:
Harvard-Westlake 11, Beckman 7: The Patriots fell to the third-seeded Wolverines, who will be playing in their second consecutive Division 1 final.
In the Division 2 semifinals:
Santa Margarita 14, Sage Hill 4: The Eagles made quick work of the host Lightning to earn a spot in Friday’s final against San Clemente.
Santa Margarita has a 19-match win streak.
In the Division 3 semifinals:
Valencia 11, Great Oak of Temecula 7: The Tigers received sweeps from freshman Matthew Cuan in singles and the doubles team of Jamie Scott and Nick Lavoie to advance to Friday’s championship match.
Valencia beat the Centurions twice in Empire League play this season, 14-4 and 11-7.