By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Having won the championship last year, Palisades’ boys tennis team went into defense mode in Newport Beach for last weekend’s 19th annual National High School All-American Invitational.
Without four of their five best players from last season’s team in graduated Lucas Bellamy (now at UCLA) and RJ Sands (Penn), USC-bound Jake Sands, who opted not to play the high school season, and Henry Lovett, who chose to skip his junior season to focus on improving his USTA ranking, the Dolphins realized they were longshots to repeat, but that only motivated them more to retain the Scudder Cup trophy.
After four intense matches over two days against a stacked draw featuring 16 of the top programs in the country, Palisades finished 2-2—good enough for 11th place—in what figures to be its stiffest competition until the CIF SoCal regionals in late May.
Seeded No. 4 behind eventual champion Menlo School of Atherton, University of Irvine and runner-up Harvard-Westlake, the Dolphins opened Friday against Cupertino Monta Vista and lost 5-3, dropping to the consolation bracket. In the second round, Palisades bounced back to beat Catholic of Baton Rouge, Louisiana 5-3 with Danilo Milic, Lincoln Bellamy and Atticus Parker getting singles wins. In the third round, Corona del Mar edged the Dolphins 38-35 on games after the teams battled to a 4-4 tie in sets.
In its final match, Palisades beat Arizona state champion Catalina Foothills of Tucson 6-2.
Last Tuesday, the defending City Section champion Dolphins found themselves in a struggle against Palos Verdes at the Palisades Recreation Center.
Palisades swept the four singles matches to clinch victory, but dropped all three doubles matches to make the final score 4-3.
Senior Diego Huttepain, who has committed to West Point, won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, Bellamy won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2, Milic won 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 at No. 3 and Parker won 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 at No. 4.
Jack Harrington and Tomas Huttepain lost the first set in a tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles but won the second set and led in the third when an injury to Harrington forced them to retire. Adam Glickman and Nick Arvin lost 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 and Lucas Trepagnier and Matt Webber fell 7-5, 7-5 at No. 3.
Palisades hosts Westchester in Western League action Tuesday.
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Pali High girls player Kalea Martin partnered with Keynon Thompkins of Los Angeles to win the Girls 16s Doubles crown at the Dudley Cup in Santa Monica.Another Dolphin, Sophia Arvin, made the finals with Sidney Bae of Los Angeles.