Valencia boys tennis opens league with convincing win over Canyon

Valencia's Gabriel Chavez returns a hit from a Canyon opponent during a home match against the Cowboys on Tuesday. Erik Luna/The Signal

Just like every year, the Valencia boys tennis team scheduled tough opponents in the preseason to help prepare for the Foothill League.

Facing an early slate of difficult opponents paid dividends, as the Vikings were well-equipped for the start of league play, defeating Canyon on their home courts 18-0.

“We never have an easy preseason, that’s kind of our thing. We try to come up with the toughest preseason we can so I think with that in mind, our kids were kind of chomping at the bit to get to league and get to this point and they were ready to go,” Valencia head coach Jen Azevedo said.

Valencia lost only four games on the day, nearly completing a clean sweep on the singles side.

No. 2 singles player Ian Cho did not lose a game and neither did No. 3 singles player Stephen Thay, defeating Canyon’s No. 2 Reese Johnson and No. 3 Humberto Reyes-Reid. No. 1 singles player Gabriel Chavez lost only one game against Canyon’s No. 1 singles player Jessie Lara.

Valencia’s Ian Cho runs to make a hit during a home match against Canyon on Tuesday. Erik Luna/The Signal

Canyon’s No. 1 doubles team of Aiden Kutcher and Anton Katona were able to win one game in each of their sets, but that was the most damage the Cowboys could do on the day.

Though all three of Valencia’s doubles teams won handily, Azevedo said she is still mixing and matching her duos, and could change the lineup depending on the matchup.

Thay, who was a dominant doubles player with Jackson Boxall the past two seasons, could serve as a key singles player this season.

“Ellis (Borsarge) and Matt (Young) at our two spot have played together a couple of years on JV, so they know each other really well. What kind of changes do you make that really create that perfect equation where we have the best scenario going into a match,” she said. “And realistically, different matches play out different ways. I have four phenomenal singles players and I have 3 singles spots, so how do we best balance that out?

“There’s a lot of that balancing and what’s the right equation. There are definitely worse problems to have and I love all my guys. I want them to play everywhere.”

Canyon’s Jessie Lara gets ready to hit the ball during a match against the Vikings at Valencia High School. Erik Luna/The Signal
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Eduardo Cedeno and Brent Lim led the way as Valencia’s No. 1 doubles team and Jason Tumbokon and Andre Ezzat served as the No. 3 squad.

Canyon will look to notch its first league win on Thursday, hosting Saugus. Valencia will be at home against Hart. Both matches are set to start at 3:00 p.m.

“Hart’s a totally different team. They’ve got a lot of fresh blood, a lot of kids that play a lot of tennis. They are not a team to overlook, so we’re definitely going to go into practice tomorrow preparing for the match in front of us, not falling asleep at the wheel,” Azevedo said. “When you get to a team like Hart, those kids are working really hard so you better give it your all. A team like Hart, they want nothing more than to get themselves in the mix.”

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