Valencia boys tennis may have lost in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs to Mira Costa, but the experience gained in the match is invaluable.
The Vikings brought a plethora of underclassmen on the hour-long bus ride to the Manhattan Beach school on Wednesday and each of them saw playing time in the 15-3 loss to the Mustangs.
“We’re hoping they go far in the tournament because it’ll show that we had a great fight today,” said coach Jen Azevedo. “We graduate a lot of seniors this year and so we brought a couple of the newer kids with us today and we hope they see what the level of play is and what to expect.”
The doubles pairing of Jackson Boxall and Stephen Thay were the Vikings’ bright spot on the afternoon, sweeping 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, making them 55-3 overall on the year.
The Foothill League doubles champions excelled against a deep Mira Costa lineup that captured the Bay League title this season.
“We just went out there playing our game,” Boxall said. “We were trying to push up to the net, we were trying to use their serves and groundstrokes to our advantage and … play each point like it was the last point in the match.”
Chan Gi Kim performed admirably with partner Ian Cho in Valencia’s No. 2 duo, despite playing through losses with a bruised shoulder.
“There’s such a respect for Chan going out there playing with pain and he knew having him out there would benefit the team with the long run,” Boxall said.
“Everyone respects Chan and he’s a senior. It’s really hard to see we were both done with team high school tennis.”
While the team season is over for the Vikings, Boxall and Thay will advance to the CIF-SS individual tournament, which will begin on May 24.
The senior-sophomore tandem was eliminated in the third round of the individual event last season.
“They’re both such good tennis players individually, but they’ve come to learn each other’s game so well that they feed off each other on the court,” Azevedo said. “…They really know each other’s games. It’s cool to see the bonds they’ve created that way.”