Valencia boys tennis singles player Gabriel Chavez had to make some adjustments to his playing style on Wednesday. Before taking the court against Redondo Union in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, Chavez sliced his finger opening a can of tennis balls.
It wasn’t a major injury, but it was enough to limit his backhand for the entire afternoon.
“I had to adjust a lot,” Chavez said. “But somehow I pulled out the first one and then the second one. I think I started playing better.”
The sophomore was able to complete a sweep against his Sea Hawk opponents and played a critical role in the Vikings’ 12-6 win on Wednesday at Valencia.
Chavez won two sets 6-0, then another one 7-5 and 7-3 in games in a tiebreaker against Redondo Union’s Jordan Alexander.
“He saw that my backhand was weak and I wasn’t hitting it and he hit really hard,” Chavez said, “so it was hard for me to control it with a one-hander, so I had to focus a lot on my footwork and getting to my forehand, so I didn’t have to use the backhand as much.”
Chavez is making his second playoff appearance after competing with the Vikings as a freshman last season. The experience is paying off mentally.
“I have more confidence than I did last year,” he said. “Being a freshman last year, I was kind of nervous before matches and stuff but this year I have more confidence going into matches and I feel like I can win every match.”
Ian Cho won two sets 6-1, 6-0 and dropped the third 3-6. Andre Ezzat won one set 6-1 and lost the other two 2-6, 2-6.
In doubles play, Valencia’s No. 1 doubles team of Eduardo Cedeno and Stephen Thay swept with scores of 6-0. Brent Lim and Ellis Bosarge also swept with scores of 7-5, 6-2, 6-3.
Lim and Bosarge’s 7-5 win came against the Sea Hawks’ No. 1 doubles team. Ahead 6-5 in the penultimate set and the game score at 40-15, Redondo Union lobbed the ball, causing Lim to miss his shot.
On the next play, however, Lim and Bosarge were able to force a Redondo Union shot to fall short and hit the net, sealing the win.
“You’ve really got to see how the person at the net is responding to the other guy’s serve when you’re down a break and I think you’ve just got to support each other,” Bosarge said. “It really helped to have all the teammates there cheering us on so when we hit a good shot, they screamed for us.”
Lim and Borsage just became doubles partners this season, but have spent four years on varsity with each other. It didn’t take long for the two to click when they were paired together and the chemistry has paid off, especially in matches like those against the Sea Hawks.
“I feel like it’s just us staying calm and communicating was the best part because we were able to find what we did best together and just pretty much execute what we wanted to do,” Lim said. “So get to the net, that’s it and then hopefully it goes from there and just hope for the best and honestly, just play.”
The Vikings will play at San Clemente in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 tournament on Friday at 3 p.m. Last season, the Vikes lost in the first round to Mira Costa, so the team is eager for the opportunity to advance.
“I think we’re all really pumped about it and we’re excited,” Bosarge said. “Hopefully we can go out there, start off strong again because we did really well in the first round this time and I hope that we can just keep the energy going, go in there and do that again.”