The boys’ tennis team suffered a 14-4 defeat to Los Alamitos in the finals of the CIF-SS Division I Playoffs May 22 at the Claremont Club.
After an extremely close first round, the two teams were tied three wins apiece. From that point onward, however, the Wolverines collapsed, failing to win a single match in the second round.
“I have never witnessed a second-round collapse like that in my career,” Head Coach Chris Simpson told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Multiple Harvard-Westlake players were in positions to win their second-round matches, with leads of 5-2, 4-2 and 3-0, but all of them conceded consecutive games in eventual losses. Stanford recruit and star singles player Michael Genender ’15 attributed the losses to pressure and lack of preparedness.
“We had a much easier draw than Los Alamitos,” Genender said. “They had to play two really tough matches (Peninsula in the quarterfinals and San Marino in the semifinals) to get to the finals, so they were more battle-tested than we were. [The collapse] can happen to any team, but it’s amazing that it happened in so many matches with us leading.”
Genender won his first-round match 6-4 against the Los Alamitos’ No. 2 singles player. In the second round, however, Genender lost 6-0 to the No. 1 player for Los Alamitos in his first dropped set of the season.
“He played really well, and I didn’t,” Genender said. “I think [my loss] really changed the momentum of the match.”
In his third match, Genender said his shoulder started to bug him, and he eventually retired down 5-2 in the set once the whole final was out of reach for the Wolverines.
“It is tough in the one-set format when you are playing good players,” Genender said. “Anything can really happen in one set. In my first loss, all of the games were close and could have gone either way, but I ended up losing every close game.”
Los Alamitos also relied on loud sideline cheering from teammates at some points, which was unconventional behavior for a tennis match.
“We played them at the All-American Tournament, and they were riled up after every single point, so we knew what to expect between [doubles partner George Noonan ’16 and myself],” Adam Sraberg ’17 told the Los Angeles Daily News after his doubles team won two of their three sets. “Me and George knew it was going to be loud, and we were used to it, but I think it affected other people.”
In the third round, all the momentum had shifted to Los Alamitos, and Harvard-Westlake managed to win one set to finish with a final score of 14-4.
This is not the first time that the star-studded boys’ tennis team has fallen in CIF Finals. The Wolverines lost last year to University High School of Irvine, falling 10-8 after beating Palos Verdes 10-8 in the CIF Southern Section semifinals.
The Wolverines had State Playoff Regionals Tuesday, but results were not available as of press time. CIF Individual Sectionals are Thursday at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center South El Monte.