With the score at 3-1 in Valencia’s favor, the No. 1 doubles team of Ellis Bosarge and Brent Lim were in a battle with Hart’s No. 1 doubles team of Jeremy Killian and Jack Burns. On the singles courts, No. 3 Giusseppe Pierotti was in a dogfight with Hart’s No. 3 singles player Scott Rankin.
Bosarge and Lim were able to come back from a 5-4 deficit, defeating Killian and Burns 7-5. Pierotti was able to do the same, forcing a tie-break and winning 7-6 (7-3).
The two wins gave the Vikings a 5-1 advantage and a big momentum boost, ultimately leading to a 14-4 victory.
“We’re up 3-1 and hanging out and those last two sets go really tight. It’s a totally different mindset going into the second round at three-all, even at 4-2,” Valencia head coach Jen Azevedo said. “At 5-1 you gain some confidence. You gain some breathing room and vice versa, they all of a sudden are starting to feel that pressure. It really changes the course of the match.
“Hart is strong and working hard, so that was really big to have Giusseppe come in and take that set and give us that space to breathe.”
“That was huge. We were super proud of him that he was able to fight and come back like that. I think he was down match point too, so that was huge,” Valencia’s No. 1 singles player Gabriel Chavez said of Pierotti’s win. “It gives a big confidence boost going into the next match.”
The Vikings carried that energy into the second and third rounds, transferring it onto the courts with strong play on the singles side.
Pierotti won two of his sets, losing his last set to Hart’s No. 1 singles player Luke Papayoanou. Valencia’s No. 2 singles player Ian Cho won all three of his sets, losing only two games in the process.
Chavez defeated Papayoanou 6-1 then defeated Rankin 6-0. With the match already decided heading into the third round, Chavez got to take a break and cheer on his teammates.
“I like resting because if I don’t have to play it’s good because I’ll get sore and stuff,” Chavez said. “I love cheering on my teammates it’s always super fun to do that.”
Hart was able to earn three wins on the doubles side, with the No. 2 team of Justyn Friedler and Jax Liescheidt winning their final set 6-2. Killian and Burns defeated Valencia’s No. 3 doubles team of Matt Young and Jason Tumbokon 7-6.
The Indians’ No. 3 doubles team of Spencer Kline and Sam Fassa defeated Young and Tumbokon 6-4 in their first set of the afternoon.
“It’s not about winning and losing. This is a sport, everyone wins and loses. It’s how you respond to the win and loss, it’s how you respond to adversity, and we didn’t have a good response when we lost those matches,” Hart head coach Allan Hardbarger said about falling behind 5-1. “I think the guys realized that we need to be a little more mentally tough the next time we play a good team like Valencia. Credit to Valencia. They saw an opening and they took it.”
Valencia’s No. 2 doubles team of Eduardo Cedeno and Stephen Thay won all three of their sets, dropping only four games on the afternoon.
Thay, who dabbles on the singles side as well, seemed very comfortable playing alongside Cedeno.
“They have so much fun out there. You could tell even in that first set they were a little quiet and once they started to build each other up, they’re pretty smooth,” Azevedo said.
Hart will be looking to get back to its winning ways on Tuesday, facing Canyon in a designated home match at College of the Canyons due to the courts being remodeled at Hart High School.
Not pleased with the loss, Hardbarger believes that this experience against Valencia will only aid his team as they try and get better each day and compete with the top teams in the Foothill League.
“There is some things that you can’t teach out of a book, you just got to experience it and I think the guys are going to remember how this feels,” he said. “Hopefully we’re going to come out next time more focused and ready to play for all 18 sets.”
Valencia will be hosting the Spring Smash Tournament at its courts on Saturday at 8:00 a.m., before gearing up for a highly-anticipated road matchup with West Ranch on Tuesday.
The Wildcats have won the league title four years in a row, but the Vikings believe they have a solid chance of dethroning them this season.
“Tuesday is coming fast, it’s going to be a big deal. We talked about it a lot today. We pulled out the tight sets and with the tight sets comes the freedom to play your game and to not be worried,” Azevedo said. “If we don’t play well in those tight sets on Tuesday, it could be a very different scenario.”
“We all have to work on what we’re good at, and perfect that,” Chavez added, “Just play our games. Doubles is going to be super important.”
Both matches are scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m.
Canyon 9, Saugus 9
Canyon defeated Saugus in total games, winning 82-78.
The Cowboys’ No. 3 singles player Jessie Lara won all three of his sets, dropping a total of five games. The Centurions’ No. 1 singles player Matthew Schwartz won two of his three sets, as did the No. 2 singles player Lawrence Lam.
The No. 2 doubles team of Aidan Kutcher and Christian Rojas won all three of their sets for Canyon, including a 7-6 (9-7) tie-break victory over Saugus’ No. 1 doubles team of Aidan Graham and Connor Loo.
Next up in league play, Canyon will take on Hart at College of the Canyons and Saugus will face Golden Valley at home. Both matches begin at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.