Boys tennis loses first round of CIF


Printed with permission of Darlene Bible

MAKING A RACKET: Avi Carson ’22 closes the net to position himself for a volley to his opponent in a match against Crespi High School on March 31.

Charlie Seymour

The boys tennis team finished their spring season with an overall record of 15-4, losing 14-4 to No. 1 seed and CIF Southern Section Open Division champion University High School in the first round of the CIF Regional Tournament on May 6. Despite the loss, the team placed first in the Mission League with a record of 9-1. 

In its 2020-2021 season, the squad went 18-1, winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division tournament with a 93-88 win over University. With nine CIF Southern Section wins, the boys tennis program has won the second-most CIF championships out of any of the school’s athletic programs and the most Mission League championships with 29 first place seasons. Boys Tennis Program Head Bo Hardt said the team’s early CIF defeat this season was because of players’ lack of drive to succeed after last year’s victory.

“Our downfall was a lack of discipline, personal accountability and a lack of focus on our program’s goals,” Hardt said. “We knew it was going to be a tough year after losing our four best players and having a bullseye on us again, but it is impossible to succeed when everyone is not on the same page.”

Hardt said the team’s success early in the season led them to lose focus, which he said resulted in a losing streak that put the program at a disadvantage going into the playoffs.

“The team peaked early in the season and then lost its way,” Hardt said. “We were able to get back on track just before playoffs, but we were just outmatched [in the CIF tournament].”

Andrew Kurgan ’24 said he was proud of the way the team played in the playoffs, despite the loss.

“The team was able to turn its season around by the CIF tournament,” Kurgan said. “Although we lost [in the] first round, we put up a valiant effort and did well against a highly ranked team.”

Although Kurgan said they ultimately stepped up, he was disappointed in the lack of commitment from his teammates throughout the season.

“We had guys not show up to practice and players underperforming in matches,” Kurgan said. “We need to practice harder and have a better mindset to hopefully win CIF again.”

Andrew Arkow ’23, who was chosen as co-captain for the 2022-2023 season, said the young team members filled the absence left by last year’s senior players. 

“We have a lot of depth on our team and were able to dominate most of our regular season matches,” Arkow said. “Since we lost some very talented players from last year, a lot of our [underclassmen] had to step up to new positions, which posed a challenge. Additionally, some of our starters had injuries and illnesses in the postseason.”

Teddy Ingold ’24 said the team’s young roster lacked the talent to find greater success in the postseason.

“[My teammates] went [into matches] with the mindset that [they] could beat anyone,” Ingold said. “However, we didn’t actually have those one or two guys we have had in the past who could go out there and beat anyone.”

Avi Carson ’22 said the team suffered from players’ lack of commitment. He said declining performance at the end of the season made playoffs difficult. 

“Halfway through the season, many kids decided to stop showing up,” Carson said. “This led the team’s morale to collapse massively and give us little hope going into the playoffs. There were also some moves made in the lineup multiple times in the season that caused us not to put our best team forward and eventually led us into defeat, forcing our ranking to drop even more and giving us a really challenging spot when we got to the playoffs.”

Although he said he was disappointed in their performance at the end of the year, Carson said he is optimistic about the team’s prospects next season.

“I would like to see the team move forward from this year and shake off the down season we had by regrouping and re-finding the team spirit that has helped us win so much in the past,” Carson said. “I think the program is on a great trajectory and hope to see the team making deep runs in the playoffs again.”

Seven of the team’s 14 players will graduate this year. Arkow said despite the large gaps to fill in the roster, he is hopeful for the program’s future and believes he can lead his seven returning teammates to a league championship next year.

“Although we are losing some integral seniors next year, a large core of our team will be back next year,” Arkow said. “We will all be more experienced and developed players, and we will be hungry to take back the title.”

Hardt said the players will use this year’s season to fuel their success next year. He said despite the team’s early exit from playoffs, the greater role of underclassmen on the team afforded them a valuable learning experience that will expand their impact next year. 

“We had the youngest roster in the [California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section (CIF-SS)] Open Division, starting only two seniors,” Hardt said. “We have already begun getting back to what built this program: a team concept, hard work, discipline and a self-motivated desire to get better at this game. Our underclassmen bought in and are motivated to get to where we want to be, which is the best in the country. We failed this year, and this failure will help us dominate our league throughout the next few years.”