It was yet another close match for the Golden Valley boys tennis team on Tuesday, as the Grizzlies squeaked out their second consecutive win by games, defeating the Canyon Cowboys 9-9 (73-69).
On Thursday, Golden Valley defeated Saugus 9-9 (86-83), solidifying a fourth-place finish in the Foothill League.
“I pointed to a kid who lost each set 2-6, 2-6, 2-6 against Saugus and said, ‘Look at the margin, the margin is like four games. Even though you lost all three sets you won six games, you were the difference in that match,’” Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac said.
“Even the player that didn’t win a set is still contributing. I always tell my guys, ‘You start with the small stuff in tennis. If you hit the ball well, if you have a good stroke, you’ll start winning points, and when you win points you win games, and when you win games you win sets. Everything small matters.’”
Golden Valley’s No. 1 singles player Dylan Yu returned from an illness that kept him out of last week’s match against Saugus, defeating each of the three opponents he faced, Humberto Reyes-Reid, Braden Bowers and Jessie Lara, by a score of 6-1.
Having Yu back in the lineup gave Golden Valley the edge it needed to secure the win on Tuesday.
“We barely beat Saugus without Dylan, but everybody that day straight down the lineup played their best tennis of the year,” Stimac said. “Today having Dylan there, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. He is good enough when he’s on to give any player in league a run and to possibly win a match over any player in league.”
The Grizzlies’ No. 1 doubles team of Chris Guerra and Javier Gonzalez also won all three of their sets, dropping just five games in the process.
“Obviously without Chris or Javi we would have been toast as well. Those are all seniors, we’re going to miss those guys next year big time,” Stimac said. “It’s huge when my No. 1 player is dominating and my No. 1 doubles is dominating because I can almost walk into a match and count on six.”
Lara, who typically serves as Canyon’s No. 1 singles player, was in the No. 3 spot, and was able to win his other two sets, defeating Golden Valley’s No. 2 Kian Ilagan and No. 3 Logan Detwiler 6-1 each.
Canyon also got four wins on the doubles side, with the No. 1 team of Anton Katona and Max Shochet winning two of their sets and the No. 2 team of Aidan Kutcher and Reese Johnson winning two of their sets.
“Honestly, my two and three doubles teams were not on their ‘A’ games today. They were a little bit off,” Stimac said. “But all credit to Canyon. I think the guys at Canyon played great today, they played awesome.”
Both Canyon and Golden Valley will finish the season on Thursday against the top two teams in the Foothill League, with the Cowboys facing off against West Ranch and the Grizzlies taking on Valencia.
Golden Valley will be at home against Valencia and Canyon will hit the road against West Ranch, with both matches starting at 3 p.m.
“This is the first time in a number of years that we’ve been in fourth. It’s definitely an accomplishment. It feels good, it’s kind of like we have two leagues and we finished first in our league, is the best way to put it,” Stimac said. “It just so happens we’re in a league with two very good Division 1 teams and Hart who is extremely good this year. It’s a tough league to win in tennis.
“Against those top teams, the hard thing is you just tell your boys to keep fighting. I just want my guys to go out there and fight and never give up, and they’ve done that all year even against West Ranch and Valencia and Hart.”