Before Wednesday afternoon, Arroyo Grande High boys tennis player Eli Whittle hadn’t played in a week. He had been nursing a back injury, so he was eager to get back on the courts.
He showed little signs of rust.
“I did what I needed to do in order to win,” he said.
So did his Arroyo Grande teammates, who captured their CIF-Southern Section Division 2 first-round match over Oxnard 15-3 at the Arroyo Grande High tennis courts.
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The Eagles (17-1) will face Villa Park or El Toro on Friday afternoon.
Arroyo Grande has not escaped the second round under the six-year watch of coach Lori Hollister.
“You know, it’s going to be match-to-match for us,” she said, adding that her Eagles are looking forward to the challenge. “We have a lot of flexibility with this team to move players back and forth from singles to doubles, and we’ll probably be doing that as we head to the next round. We’ll take a look at this team and come up with a configuration that will give us the best shot at beating them.”
The Eagles did some shifting around against Oxnard (11-9). One big move was in the doubles, where Sean Hollister — a reliable singles player — teamed with Tyler Beels to sweep their sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.
“To sweep is always good,” coach Lori Hollister said. “Sean being a player we’ve used in singles and doubles this year, it’s nice to have a strong player who can add some depth to the doubles. And so, that really helped us today.”
Sage Lysobey and Tyler Anderson ended up with two doubles wins at 6-2, 6-2 after losing in the first round for the Eagles, and Cole Laughton and Ryley Anderson won 6-3 in the third round.
With Whittle winning his two sets 6-2, 6-0, Arroyo Grande captured all of its singles matches. Jordan Hayashi won 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 and Derek Lakowske won 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, while Bryan Rozo won his set 6-4 in the second round after subbing in to give Whittle and his back a break.
Another impressive thing about the singles wins was having the trio of Whittle, Hayashi and Lakowske take turns in beating Trent Lopez, Oxnard’s top player.
“All three of these boys went out and played every ball hard, played every point hard, and those were good wins to have all three of our singles players go out and do that today,” Lori Hollister said.
The Eagles hope to continue rolling in the playoffs.
“I think we can go really far,” Whittle said. “It depends on how we play every time we come out here. If we can keep up the intensity, we’ll be fine.
“But if we screw around and not focus, it’s over. It depends on how we are as a team that day. Hopefully, everyone will want to win. If we are in that mindset, I think we can go really far.”