While the singles players get most of the attention at the high school level, most team tennis matches are decided by the play of doubles teams. A strong trio of tandems can be the difference between a win and a loss.
So when the Burlingame and Aragon teams split the four singles matches in their Peninsula Athletic League tournament semifinal match in San Mateo Friday afternoon, it was the doubles teams that would decide the match. Aragon swept all three to beat Burlingame 5-2 and advance to Monday’s championship match against Carlmont, which beat Ocean Division champ Hillsdale 6-1 in the other semifinal.
Burlingame coach Bill Smith said he’s been trying to find the right combinations for his doubles teams and it didn’t work out Friday.
“We’ve been trying to gel in doubles,” Smith said. “Knowing the matchups, it didn’t look good (for us) on paper.”
Aragon coach Dave Owdom had his own issues with doubles. He was mixing and matching all this week and put six players on the court who had a grand total of eight matches played with each other.
It didn’t matter as all three of them won in straight sets. Landers Ngirchemat and Matthew Fowler, playing together for just the third time this season, won 6-3, 7-5 at No. 1 doubles. Alex Ilyin and Fabio Gallardo also have been paired together three times this season and they dominated their No. 2 doubles match, 6-3, 6-1. The No. 3 doubles team of Tony Wan and William Miyahira have a total of only two matches together under their belts, but they also breezed to a relatively easy win, 6-3, 6-4.
“It could blow up in your face. You have to have the right kids who can play together,” Owdom said of mixing and matching doubles partners. “They can all play doubles. [Miyahira] can be a force at the net. He can put the ball away. No one is putting the ball away at No. 3 doubles.”
Burlingame picked up its two wins at No. 1 and No. 4 singles. Scott Taggart, the No. 3 seed in the upcoming PAL individual tournament, cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles, while Bryan Anderson was pushed a little bit more at No. 4 singles, but came away with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
It’s the third time these two teams have faced off against each other, with Aragon winning all three times. The Dons buried the Panthers 6-1 in the first meeting of the year, but Burlingame closed the gap the second time around, losing 4-3.
Was Owdom concerned about facing Burlingame for a third time?
“You’re always concerned playing Burlingame,” Owdom said. “It doesn’t matter if we beat them two times (previously this season).”
Now the Dons get a showdown with Carlmont, which beat the Dons 7-0 Tuesday. The two squads finished in second place behind Menlo-Atherton with identical 11-3 records, but the Scots were anointed the top seed in the tournament based on a tiebreaker. Owdom said his team was looking forward to facing the Scots one more time.
“Actually, we are,” Owdom said. “They really took it to us this week.”
Carlmont 6, Hillsdale 1
The Scots advanced to the finals of the PAL tournament with an easy win over the Knights.
Corey Pang, the top singles seed in the PAL individual championships next week, made short work of his opponent Friday, winning 6-1, 6-0. Carlmont coach Amina Doar Halsey also did some juggling of her lineup, teaming up former No. 2 singles player, Vrain Ahuja, with Ben Knoot to form the No. 1 doubles tandem. Playing only their second match together, they buried Hillsdale 6-0, 6-0.
Matt Soriano, who took over the No. 2 singles spot, had little trouble in beating his opponent 6-4, 6-4.
Hillsdale’s lone win came at No. 3 singles, with Michael Yan posting a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Carlmont, too, is looking forward to meeting Aragon in the finals. The winner joins Menlo-Atherton as an automatic qualifier for the Central Coast Section tournament.
“It’s going to be a fun match to play,” Doar Halsey said. “We’re definitely looking forward to it and we’ll be ready for it.”