In the second set of Davey Woodland’s title match against teammate Parker McBride, the West Ranch singles player laid motionless on the court, surrounded by his parents, coaches and teammates.
Seconds prior, McBride had smashed the ball straight into Woodland’s eye at the Foothill League individual tournament at The Paseo Club of Valencia on Thursday.
PHOTOS: Foothill League boys tennis finals
“It was an awkward angle for me,” Woodland said. “So I tried to swing at it and ended up missing the ball and as I tried to turn away my face, the ball hit me right in the eye.”
Woodland’s vision was blurred, and McBride won the game to even the score at two-all.
But Woodland came back to win four straight games and take the set 6-2, thanks to some strong, unbroken serves.
“If I knew I could sacrifice an eye to win four straight games in a match, I’d do it a lot more often,” Woodland said.
It’s the second year in a row he defeated McBride for the Foothill League singles title. In this year’s semifinals, Woodland beat Saugus High’s Erin Pang and McBride beat Jake Anderson of West Ranch.
The two have known each other since kindergarten and played tennis with each other for just as long.
“I’ve known Parker for as long as I’ve known a tennis racket,” Woodland said. “…It’s kind of a mixture between finding yourself in a place you can compete and this place where you’re not going to make anybody mad. I was able to do that today.”
The Valencia pairing of Jackson Boxall and Stephen Thay, the No. 2 seed, took down No. 1 Noah Morrow and Quincy Walter-Eze for the doubles crown.
In the semis, Boxall and Thay beat the Wildcats duo of Robert Kim and Aristo Turalakey. Morrow and Walter-Eze took down Evan Balmain and Chan Gi Kim.
Boxall and Thay fought their way to a tie-breaking third set in the finals, then pushed past an 8-9 deficit to win 11-9.
“That last point, I was in shock,” Boxall said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It was the best feeling I’ve probably ever had. Ever.”
Thay, a freshman, was equally ecstatic.
“My first initial thought was, ‘oh, crap, I can’t believe we got here,’” Thay said of the third set. “Coming from a freshman and a junior against two amazing seniors, I don’t know how we pulled it off.”
The top two singles players and top two doubles teams from the league tournament move on to CIF-Southern Section play.
Woodland and McBride will each continue to CIF-SS individual sectionals as well as Boxall and Thay and Morrow and Walter-Eze. Sectionals are on May 25.