Lightning Champs

Pali High Boys Tennis Prevails at Sage Hill Tournament in Newport Beach

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Two days of grueling tennis came down to one tiebreak set Saturday afternoon in Newport Beach, where Palisades High senior Danilo Milic teamed with sophomore Atticus Parker to rally past  Emin Torlic and Brian Yu of host Sage Hill, 3-4 (5-7), 4-1, 7-0, to earn the decisive doubles point as the Dolphins captured the Lightning Invitational crown, 5-4.

Afterwards, Milic was tossed in the air in celebration after being named doubles Most Valuable Player along with junior teammate Lincoln Bellamy. Sage Hill senior Emin Torlic was the singles MVP.

Milic started the final doubles match in the ‘deuce’ court but switched to the ‘ad’ side after that at the urging of Pali High Coach Bud Kling, who also switched the pair’s serving order in the last set.

The tournament final was played in three groups of three matches. Sage Hill led 2-1 early, as Torlic beat Bellamy 4-0, 4-3 (7-5) at No. 1 singles and Lightning senior Steven Ferry beat Milic 2-4, 4-1, 7-6 (5) at No. 2 singles. However, Palisades’ fourth duo of Noah Zaret and Michael Kaplan notched the Dolphins’ first point.

Zaret lost to Sage Hill junior Rohun Krishnan at No. 5 singles, 4-3 (8-6), 4-1, but Kaplan and Parker earned straight set singles victories to even the score at 3-3.

The third round was tense as Krishnan and Ferry beat Palisades’ Adam Glickman and Souma Hayakawa 4-3 (7-3), 4-0 at No. 1 doubles and Bellamy paired with freshman Landon Cronin to win in straight sets and set up the last winner-take-all doubles point.

In the first round robin match Friday the Dolphins blanked LA  Windward 9-0 and on Saturday morning they edged St. Ignatius of San Francisco, 5-4.

Bellamy and Milic both won their singles matches, 4-0, 4-0, then partnered to win 4-2, 4-0 at No. 1 doubles against Windward. Kaplan won 4-0, 4-3 (7-1) at No. 4 singles and teamed with Zaret to win 4-0, 4-0 at No. 4 doubles against the Wildcats. Glickman and Shuman won 4-0, 4-1 at No. 3 doubles, Cronin teamed with Hayakawa to win by an identical score at No. 2 and Parker also won 4-0, 4-1 at No. 3 singles.      

Palisades built an early lead against St. Ignatius before subbing out players once victory was secured.

Bellamy prevailed, 2-4, 4-1, 7-6 (7-2) at No. 1 singles, Milic won 4-0, 4-1 at No. 2,  Kaplan won 4-1, 4-2 at the No. 4 spot and Zaret won a marathon three-setter at No. 5 singles. Zaret and Kaplan swept, 4-0, 4-0, for the Dolphins’ only doubles point.

In a companion event called the Sunshine Cup, which mixed varsity and JV players, Palisades beat the same three teams to take first place. Senior Aidan Fedoroff and freshman Peter Sims  were the singles MVPs while the Dolphins’ duo of Matt Webber and Jeremy Nelson took MVP doubles honors.

With six more wins under his belt, Kling moved closer to the all-time state record for career victories, currently held by Robin Adair, the former coach at Coronado High in San Diego County.    

Palisades played Western League rival Venice at the Palisades Tennis Center on Tuesday,  traveled to Palos Verdes for one of its toughest matches of the year Wednesday and wraps up league play Friday at Hamilton.

After Spring Break the Dolphin Netters will vye for the coveted CIF Griggs Cup at the 119th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, then will try to win their 11th City Section championship in a row.

Palisades has nonleague wins against Southern Section schools Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Ranch and Loyola and made the Division I final at the California Tennis Classic in Clovis, beating Granite Bay before falling to Brophy College Prep of Phoenix, 4-3, in the championship match.     

In May, Palisades will take on some of the top teams in Southern California at the CIF Regionals in Claremont.