In a fitting end to a dominant season, the boys’ tennis team defeated Peninsula 10-8 on May 19 to win the CIF-SS DI championship.
The CIF-SS DI Finals saw the No. 1 ranked team of Peninsula square up against the No. 2 ranked team of Harvard-Westlake. The Peninsula squad, which had gone 1-1 with HW this season (with the win coming in a regular season friendly and the loss coming in the All American Tournament), boasted a lineup that included several NCAA bound players, including No. 19 nationally ranked UCLA bound Connor Hance.
The Wolverines lined up accordingly: one singles Adam Sraberg ’17, two singles Matthew Druyanoff ’19, three singles Stanley Morris ’18, 1 doubles Jacob Tucker ’17/Jonah Dickson ’19, two doubles Sacha Pritzker ’18/Timothy Li ’19, three doubles Jed Kronenberg ’17/David Arkow ’19. Druyanoff was a new face in the starting lineup, due to a strategic decision by the captains and coaches to place Arkow in doubles because in the most recent peninsula meeting, Arkow was unable to attain a win in singles. The Peninsula lineup was UCLA bound Connor Hance at one singles, two singles UC Davis recruit Darisuh Jalali, three singles Sahm Irvine, one doubles William Mori/Louis Hoeger, two doubles Adil Khan/ Nabeel Khan, three doubles Rei Landsberger/Kevin Liu.
Peninsula picked up the first point of the match, with Jalali picking up a quick 6-0 win against Druyanoff. The Wolverines quickly bounced back however, with wins in doubles coming at the two and three positions, with a 6-1 win from Pritzker/Li and a 6-4 win from Kronenberg/Arkow, respectively.
Peninsula turned the tide again when Hance picked up win with a 6-2 score line against Sraberg, and Hoeger/Mori picked up a 6-3 win at the one doubles position. This left the overall match score at 3-2 for Peninsula, Morris and Sahm Irvine still battling it out. Morris eventually prevailed; resurging from a 2-4 deficit to take the set 6-4 and tie the overall match score at 3-3 going into the second round.
The second round began with a quick 6-0 win from Kronenberg/Arkow over Khan/Khan and a 6-0 win from Connor Hance over Druyanoff. Pritzker/Li helped the wolverines edge out in front with a 3-0 comeback win against Mori/Hoeger, taking their set by a score of 6-4.
Once again, Peninsula was able to counter with a tight 7-6 win by Landsberger/Liu over Tucker/Dickson. With match score at 5-5, Sraberg hammered out a quick 6-0 win over a deflated Irvine, and Morris squeaked out a tight 7-5 win over Jalali to take the overall match score to 7-5 in favor of the wolverines.
The final round began with Pritzker/Li getting a 6-2 win over Landsberger/Liu, and Tucker/Dickson getting a 6-4 win over Khan/Khan to take the match score to 9-5.
Staying true to the story of the day, Peninsula battled and picked up a 6-3 win from Hoeger/Mori over Kronenberg/Arkow, and Irvine over Velaise 6-0, who substituted in for Druyanoff.
With the score at 9-7, the Wolverines needed a win from either Morris over Hance, or Sraberg over Jalali to take home the title.
A 9-9 result would’ve meant a win for Peninsula, as they had won more games due to the 6-0 wins over Druyanoff.
Hance delivered for his teammates by defeating the seemingly unstoppable Morris 6-3, and the score was 9-8 Wolverines.
All eyes turned to the captain, five-star Vanderbilt recruit Sraberg. The fate of the tennis team’s season and the seniors’ last chance at a championship ring lay in his hands. Everyone else had done their part. In the biggest moment of his tennis career, Sraberg delivered a 6-3 win for the Wolverines. As he watched his final slam fly just out of reach of Jalali, Sraberg laid down on the court in rejoice, as his teammates hopped the fence and stormed the court. The final match score was 10-8. The blood sweat and tears of this season all became worth it. The wolverines had won CIF.
Boys' Tennis are the CIF-SS DI Champions, defeating Peninsula 10-8! pic.twitter.com/psSNzNtnSu
— Harvard-Westlake (@hwathletics) May 19, 2017
“I’ve dreamed of clinching like that since I was a little kid,” Sraberg said. “To have it become a reality is truly incredible. I am beyond proud of every member of this team.”
The Wolverines had lost a close match to Peninsula earlier this season, by the same score of 8-10. Sraberg lost to Jalali in a close match, and he was determined not to let this happen again.
“I told myself I was the better player. I knew how much I wanted to win and I owed it to myself and my teammate to fight my tail off. And that’s exactly what I did,” Sraberg said.
After losing in the finals in their freshman and sophomore years, the seniors were able to earn what they had been fighting for the past four years.
“Rushing the court was one of the best moments of my life ever. I can’t believe we finally won, it’s totally unreal,” Kronenberg said.
Head coach Chris Simpson expressed that he couldn’t be any prouder of his team, especially his seniors.
“It was a fantastic performance full of fight and grit when needed,” Simpson said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to play against our seniors today. They brought 2 years of motivation, hunger and desire to this final having lost 2 previous finals. They wanted it more than anything. A ring in their senior year! [I am] So proud of them and honored to be their coach.”
It was a storybook ending for the squad. They were able to win, and win on their own terms.
“I’m beyond proud of the boys today, not just for winning, but for how we won,” Tucker said. “We won with class, style and by having to fight it out till the sweet end. We proved today not just who we are as athletes, but who we are as people. We are guys who are determined and tenacious. We are winners.”
However, the season is not over yet. The best players in California will partake in the state tournament next Friday, rings on their fingers, looking for a banner.