A first place singles finish and quarterfinal doubles finish at the Ojai Tournament Saturday suggest the boys’ tennis team is peaking with the end- of-league play and CIF Playoffs around the corner.
Michael Genender ’15 won six singles matches in three days before finally defeating Corona Del Mar’s Bjorn Hoffman ’16 6-2, 6-4 in the finals. He was down 1-4 in the second set but won five consecutive games to clinch the championship.
Genender, who will play tennis at Stanford University next year, was the runner-up in Ojai last year, and winning this tournament was one of his big goals at the beginning of the season, Head Coach Chris Simpson said.
“I was so much more relaxed coming in,” Genender told the Los Angeles Daily News. “I treated it like just another match and wasn’t as concerned with the result. Last year I put too much focus on the result. I was playing well and relaxed, real loose. I could be free.”
Genender has not lost a match this entire season, and the semifinals was the first time he dropped a set when Los Alamitos’ Riley Smith ’16 took him to three sets.
Genender’s dominance was on full effect all tournament long, dropping only 10 games through his first four matches against a field of top-ranked junior players.
The doubles team of Adam Sraberg ’17 and Jaird Meyer ’15 lost in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-2 to No. 2 seed Ivan Thamma ’17 and Keegan Smith ’17 of Point Loma High School.
Both Sraberg and Meyer usually play singles for the Wolverines, but they play doubles together for certain tournaments.
“The Ojai Tournament is one of the most prestigious tournaments in junior tennis,” Sraberg said. “I was really fortunate to be able to represent Harvard-Westlake, and I thought that I performed very well.”
Each school at the Ojai Tournament can send one singles player and one doubles team, three players in total. Because both the singles player and doubles team from Harvard-Westlake did so well, the Wolverines finished with the most total points of any school. As a result, Harvard-Westlake was presented with the Griggs Cup.
“It was an honor to represent the school, and it was rewarding to be presented with the Griggs Cup by tennis legend Stan Smith,” Sraberg said.
The Wolverines were 11-1 overall and 8-0 in league as of press time. They played their penultimate game Tuesday against Chaminade and will finish up their league season tomorrow against Notre Dame.
Simpson has been coaching at Harvard-Westlake for 15 years and has not lost a single Mission League match since then.
Assuming the Wolverines can win their last two games of the league season, Simpson will be 178-0 and capture his 15th consecutive Mission League Championship.
The only loss of the year was a non-league match against Beverly Hills. The result was a massive upset, but Harvard-Westlake was missing its top six players, Simpson said.
This will affect the seeding for CIF playoffs, possibly giving the team a tougher draw because Beverly Hills is seeded higher.
“Hopefully the CIF will get the seeding right by the time the final four comes out,” Simpson said. “Winning [Ojai] should help because if you look at the three of our guys that played here, they weren’t even playing against Beverly Hills. So you have to think that we would beat them if we had our full squad.”
The biggest competition for the Wolverines in CIF will be University High School in Irvine and San Marino High School. Last year, University beat Harvard-Westlake in the finals of CIF playoffs and the semifinals of state playoffs.
This year, however, the Wolverines already defeated Uni in a non-league match. It was Uni’s first regular season loss since 2007, when Harvard-Westlake was the last team to beat University before its run started.
Since starting 15 years ago, Simpson has won CIF in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
In addition to team CIF Playoffs, there is also an individual CIF tournament that Genender won last year. The Mission League Prelims May 4 and May 5 will determine which two players from the Mission League qualify for the tournament.
Genender is undecided on whether or not he will play in the singles tournament, however, because he has already won it, and he would have to play matches on the Friday of graduation and the following Saturday, Simpson said.