Tennis Third in Fresno

Based on its performance at the season-opening Central California Tournament in Fresno, the Palisades High boys tennis team will be the team to beat in the Western League and a strong contender for the City championship this season. The Dolphins began their schedule two weeks ago against several of the top teams in the state and held their own up north, finishing third in Division II with a 3-3 record. ‘Last year, we won Division III,’ PaliHi coach Bud Kling said of the tournament.”So this year was a step up in competition and we played very close matches against very good competition.’ After blanking Wasco and Stockton Lincoln by 6-0 scores in the first two rounds, Pali lost to a deeper, more experienced Palo Alto team 4-2 in its third pool play match, with top singles players Chris Ko and Ben Tom notching the Dolphins’ two points. Palo Alto was subsequently placed in Division I and Palisades in Division II. The next day, the Dolphins beat St. Ignatius of San Francisco 4-2, but Tom suffered pulled muscles in his thigh and hamstring and limped through Pali’s last two matches’a 6-0 loss to eventual Division II champion Los Gatos and a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Davis. ‘Los Gatos just overpowered us,’ Kling said. ‘They had bigger kids who served harder, hit harder and were quicker. Against Davis, we were ahead at one point and all the sets we lost we could’ve won. I’m pleased with how we did.’ In their final match, the Dolphins lost all four singles matches in tiebreakers and won both doubles matches. Ko reaggravated a sore shoulder in his match at No. 1 singles and Tom was hobbled at No. 2 but both still nearly pulled out victories. Palisades lost to Southern Section powerhouse Loyola last Friday at Rancho Park and fell 10-8 to host Beverly Hills (1-1) in another intersectional match Monday despite missing two key players. Ko was nursing his sore shoulder and didn’t play. Neither did team captain Taylor Robinson, who traveled with the team despite having had four wisdom teeth pulled. Because Palisades was the visiting team, it played under Southern Section rules, which employ a round robin format in which each singles player and each doubles team plays one set against each of the other team’s players and teams. Filling in for Ko at No. 1 singles, Tom lost to the Normans’ highly-ranked Mike Gurman, 6-1, but recovered to win his last two sets, 6-1, 6-1. Ariel Oleynik, who did not have to play Gurman, swept his three sets 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Brian Pak, brought up from the junior varsity, lost 6-0 to Gurman, but had chances to win his other two sets before losing them 7-5 and 7-6 (7-5). ‘Loyola was better than us. They are a very strong team,’ Kling said. ‘But with a full squad, we might’ve beaten Beverly Hills. At the very least we tie 9-9 in sets and count games. At that point, you count games and the team with the most total games wins the match.’ While competitive in singles, Palisades (3-5) was less successful in doubles, winning only two of nine sets. With one more point, the Dolphins would have tied Beverly Hills (1-1) in games, but that point proved elusive. Stephen Surjue teamed with Darya Bakhtiar to lose 6-1 and win 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 at No. 1 doubles. Daniel Yoo and Sephir Safii were swept 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 and Josh Kim/Daniel Lee lost 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles. The Dolphins traveled to crosstown rival Santa Monica Wednesday and open defense of their Western League championship against Fairfax on Monday.’