Boys Varsity Tennis Team Keeps Rolling Through the NCS Team Championships: Acalanes 4, Lick-Wilmerding 3

Just when I think it’s safe to put the child-proof cap back on my heart medication, the heart attack pack strikes again!  There are so many things about this team that keep me coming back for more – where do I start?  One is the fact that we get new heroes each week that pull out critical wins that push the team over the finish line.  If you’re one of my regular readers, I don’t have to list names, you know who they are.  This match was no different.

The team knew going in that this match was critical.  We were the #4 seed, Lick-Wilmerding was seeded #5.  A win puts us in the semifinals, a loss ends our season.  Playing a 4 singles, 3 doubles format on six courts, we also knew that one match had to wait.  The NCS guidelines for this tournament dictate that the bottom of the lineup goes on first.  You work your way up, which is why the #1 singles was the last match to go on.

First off the courts was #2 singles Eagens who went down to a talented Armaan Mishra 6-2, 6-0.  At almost the same time, #2 doubles Reeder/Hoeberechts scored a win with a straight set victory over Anwar/Pak 6-1, 6-3.  They were clearly the stronger team and never let their opponents into the match.  #4 Shah then completed a straight set victory over Karas 6-4, 6-4.  This match had a lot of long rallies, but Shah outsmarted and outplayed his rival.  At this point we were up 2-1.

The switch from a 6/3 format to a 4/3 format requires some rethinking of the lineup and some new doubles combinations.  #1 doubles Foster/Ledezma was a product of that reimagining.  They started a little slow but put up a good fight in the second set eventually losing 6-1, 6-4.  This was a tough matchup for them as their adversaries were #2 ranked Liu and #6 Eidelhoch on the Lick roster.    Next off was #3 doubles Patterson/Tantameng.  They had a competitive drama-filled battle with Birtwistle/Lee but fell 6-4, 7-6 (1).  Acalanes was now down 2-3 and had to win the last two singles matches to pull this off.

One of the benefits of having so many 5-4 matches this year is that the players get the experience of playing under pressure.  I can’t teach this in practice, it comes from real situations.  It also requires me to wear a firm coaching hat to help them as emotions and tentativeness can creep into their games at the worse times.  #3 Brewer played the only three-setter of the overall match.  He lost the first set 6-2 and was struggling with unforced errors and almost being a little too amped up.  But Brewer turned all of that around.  With more consistent play, composure and moving forward on short balls, he took the second set 6-4.  It then became a more physical battle as both players were struggling with cramping.  To put it simply, Tucker played the critical points smarter.  He was patient and strategic and he was rewarded with a 6-3 third set win.  And yes, that tied the event up 3-3.

It’s no secret that #1 Owens had a tough season.  He was thrown into the deep end with some very large fish.  He fought hard but came out on the losing end of some heartbreaking matches.  But that was then, this is now.  When you get into the post-season, the slate is cleared, and you start fresh.  Owens had a score to settle with Lick’s #1 Saahil Mishra.  A year ago, Acalanes lost to Lick-Wilmerding in a practice match.  When the overall score was tied 3-3, Mishra defeated Owens in the deciding 13-11 super tiebreaker.  Fast forward to today, same foes, the semifinals of the NCS Team Championships on the line.  Now what the parents don’t know is that in our pep talk before the match, Owens had one request of his teammates.  Get four wins before he had to play so his was NOT the deciding match.  Clearly, his teammates listen to him about as well as they listen to me!  But it didn’t matter, because today, Owens was clearly the better player.  He jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and never looked back.  He was swinging freely, moving Mishra around, and executing dropshots and changes of pace so effectively that Mishra was getting thrown off of his game.  He then closed out the match with a dominant 40-love serving game.  And yes, his teammates stormed the court to celebrate.  Another proud moment for me and Coach Peter.

Some additional DAL tennis news – in division 1, #2 Mission San Jose defeated #7 Campolindo 7-0; and #1 California defeated #8 Miramonte 6-1.  This means Acalanes is the last DAL representative standing and the only one to make the semifinals.  My congratulations to the players – well earned!  Next up for us is #1 seeded SF University.  All four top seeded teams made the semifinals, so in the other half of the draw, #2 Branson takes on #3 Bishop O’Dowd.  Both matches will start at 9:30AM this Saturday at Golden Gate Park.  My thanks to the many family members who again were there for us every step of the way today and through this season’s journey.  We feel the love.  See you Saturday.  Go Dons!  Coach Rick

Acalanes defeated Lick-Wilmerding (4-3)


#1 Nick Owens (A) defeated Saahil Mishra (LW) 6-3, 6-4

Armaan Mishra (LW) defeated #2 Peyton Eagens (A) 6-2, 6-0

#3 Tucker Brewer (A) defeated Andrew Chou-Belden (LW) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3

#4 Saaj Shah (A) defeated Steven Karas (LW) 6-4, 6-4


Este Liu/Andrew Eidelhoch (LW) defeated #1 Sammy Foster/Diego Ledezma (A) 6-1, 6-4

#2 Ace Reeder/Kaya Hoeberechts (A) defeated Isaac Anwar/Noah Pak (LW) 6-1, 6-3

Sam Birtwistle/Caden Lee (LW) defeated #3 Quincy Patterson/Spencer Tantameng (A) 6-4, 7-6 (1)

Owens – clutch serving for the match and the team’s berth in the NCS Team Championship semifinals.
Acalanes and Lick-Wilmerding squads with their pre-match cheers.