Arroyo Grande boys tennis team cruises into semifinals

nwilson@thetribunenews.comMay 13, 2013 

Cypress High tennis player Anthony Clark hadn’t lost in 54 singles sets this season. Arroyo Grande’s Eli Whittle had only lost twice in 58 sets this year.

The two met in the third round of a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal Monday at Arroyo Grande, and Whittle got the best of the showdown with a 6-2 win. Whittle went on to sweep his three sets and help the Eagles to a 13-5 team victory.

“Today was really fun,” Whittle said. “I think as a team, we came in really focused. We had a team practice on Sunday without our coach there because she’s not allowed to be, and I think that helped us to get ready.”

The Eagles (20-5) will face the winner of Monday’s match between Temecula Valley and Oaks Christian in the semifinals Wednesday.

Whittle said he enjoyed playing against Clark because of the rapid pace of his groundstrokes, which suits the Arroyo Grande senior’s style.

Clark, a junior, was the sixth-ranked player in Spain in the under-16 division before moving to Orange County with his mother last year, said his coach, Joseph Paul.

Monday’s quarterfinal unfolded like a lot of Arroyo Grande’s matches this season, as the singles combination of Whittle and Sean Hollister racked up points.

Arroyo Grande’s doubles team of Tyler Anderson and Bryan Rozo won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 after losing each of their three sets in an 11-7 win against Great Oak on Friday.

Anderson cited fresher legs Monday as a positive, compared to sitting in a car for five hours as the Eagles traveled to Great Oak in the Temecula area.

“Friday was just a crummy day for us,” Anderson said. “We had much better energy today. I feel really good about our chances going into the next round.”

Anderson’s twin brother, Ryley Anderson, and his partner, Cole Laughton, won a set after overcoming a controversial call in their first doubles match.

With the score 6-6, the Cypress doubles team called a baseline shot by Anderson out.

The doubles teams argued with each other over the call, with the Eagles contending it caught the line and one of Cypress’ players pointing to the spot on the court where he felt the ball landed off the line.

In the end, Cypress was awarded the point and went up 7-6. But Anderson and Laughton fought back to win the tiebreaker 9-7.

“That ball was blatantly on the line,” Ryley Anderson said. “They were adamant about it. We just had to play through.”

A large group of fans gathered to watch Anderson and Laughton’s first-round match.

With the win over the Centurions, the Eagles took out the second seed in Division 3. San Luis Obispo upset Valencia, the division’s top seed, on Friday.

There is a chance the Eagles and Tigers could stage a rivalry match in the Division 3 final Friday at Claremont Club.

Arroyo Grande’s No. 3 singles player, Derek Lakowske, took two of three sets, 6-0, 6-3, 2-6. He felt comfortable after practicing groundstrokes Sunday despite some wind on the court Monday.

“The wind bugs me a lot, but today I felt like I was hitting pretty well,” Lakowske said.

Lakowske and Hollister both lost to Clark after Whittle’s win in the first round, but Hollister also won two of three, 6-0, 5-7, 6-0.

Eagles coach Lori Hollister said that her team’s strong start, including a 5-1 and then 9-2 lead, fueled her players.

“They came out strong, energetic and focused,” Lori Hollister said.

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