Valencia boys tennis succumbs in second round of CIF-SS playoffs

Ian Cho of Valencia Tennis competes on earlier this year. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia boys tennis ended a season that took the program to new heights on Friday, losing on the road to San Clemente 13-5 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

It’s not the first time the Vikings played the Tritons in the postseason — the two met in the 2016 playoffs as well, when this season’s seniors were freshmen.

“I think it was a big step up today,” said senior Eddie Cedeno. “I think I played better than my freshman year and we all played really good. I think we can all take away that every game counts and win counts.”

After the first round, the two teams were tied 3-3. Valencia was feeling energetic, with players encouraging each other and providing valuable critiques after each game.

In doubles play, Giusseppe Pierotti and Matt Young were in a heated battle that went to a tiebreak. The tandem was able to pull off the win, which was a feat particularly because Pierotti had been playing doubles on and off throughout the season.

“That’s not an easy spot to be in and Giuseppe hasn’t gotten a lot of doubles time, but we put them together today and they were fighting that whole set,” said coach Jen Azevedo. “They were close the whole way through and they got to a tiebreak and the other team got a little tight and we didn’t.”

When the second round came, however, San Clemente stepped it up.

“We went out there and they were expecting to probably beat us 6-0 in the first round, but we came out and we did a good job,” said doubles player Ellis Bosarge. “The first round we were tied 3-3 and after that, we got our hopes up a little bit and we kind of let go a little bit and that’s what we messed up on.”

Each of the Vikings’ doubles teams were able to win one set. Pierotti and Young won in their tiebreaker, Cedono won playing alongside Stephen Thay and Borsarge won with Brent Lim.

Cedeno said that he and Thay felt tight and nervous in the first set, to the point that Cedeno switched rackets in order to help him land more shots in bounds.

Although the pair was only able to manage one win, Azevedo thinks that it was a good challenge ahead of the individual postseason that Cedeno and Thay will be playing in.

“They had to work hard today to get one set, which speaks to the depth of the team we played, speaks to you’re never done learning, you’re never done preparing,” she said. “There’s always going to be something else out there.”

Although the team season is over, three Vikings will head to the individual postseason. In addition to Cedeno and Thay, singles player Ian Cho will compete in the CIF-SS Ford Boys Individual Tennis Tournament Sectionals, starting with sectionals on Thursday, May 16.

As a team, though, Valencia had a momentous season that included a Foothill League title, a California Tennis Classic title and multiple individual honors.

“It was jointly at the end,” Cedeno said. “When we finished, the seniors started tearing up. It’s been a good ride, so I’m going to miss this so much. It was a big year for Valencia tennis and I hope the freshmen and the juniors can do it again next year.”

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