Valencia, West Ranch fall in first day of Boys Individual Tennis Championships

Valencia's Ian Cho competes against West Ranch at West Ranch High School earlier this year. Dan Watson/The Signal

With a rain forecast for Thursday, the CIF-Southern Section rescheduled some of the matches in the Boys Individual Tennis Championships, leading to a trip to the University of Redlands on Wednesday for Valencia and West Ranch.

The Vikings were represented in the singles bracket by Ian Cho and in the doubles bracket by Eduardo Cedeno and Stephen Thay. The Wildcats doubles team of Alec Robertson and Sam Vila also competed on Wednesday.

Cho, the Foothill League champion, won his first match easily, defeating his opponent 6-1, 6-2. The second round spelled trouble for the senior as he fell 1-6 in the first set. He continued to grind in the second set, but eventually lost 3-6.

“In the first round, he was completely in control. Foot on the gas from start to finish, he was in control,” Valencia head coach Jen Azevedo said about Cho. “His second round he played a guy with an 11 UTR (Universal Tennis Rating), which is almost a full point higher than his. Ian was missing everything by inches, but he was in the whole match, it just didn’t go his way.

“I couldn’t be more happy with his finish today, such a classy sportsman. Even though it didn’t go his way I was just so proud of him.”

The Foothill League doubles champs, Cedeno and Thay earned a first-round bye to start the doubles tournament.

The duo won their second-round match with ease, defeating their opponents 6-0, 6-0 to earn a spot in the third round.

Battling an equally-balanced team in the third round, Cedeno and Thay won the first set 6-4, then lost the second set 4-6, leading to a 10-point tiebreaker set which they lost by three points.

“Dubs were awesome. In the second round they steamrolled 12 straight games, they were just on it. The third round they played a team that was very evenly matched across the board,” Azevedo said. “They split sets 6-4, 4-6 and then lost by three points in the 10-point tiebreak. It was really evenly-matched throughout, we just had a little tiny stop in the very end and it cost us.

“They’re such good guys and you’re just so proud to see them out there and fighting. Nobody could ever question that all three of those guys are in it to win it.”

The West Ranch pair of Robertson and Vila, who finished in second at the Foothill League finals, won their first match handily 6-1, 6-1, but fell in the second match.

Hart’s Luke Papayoanou, the Foothill League singles runner-up, is the only remaining Foothill League player in the tournament and will compete on Friday at Cate School in Carpinteria.

“All the Foothill League fellas that traveled today are done, but it was neat to be out there. When you get to this spot, now we’ve become family,” Azevedo said about rooting for the Wildcats. “We’re competitors during league, but when we get to this point and we’re all out there together, our guys were cheering for them, they were cheering for us, so that’s really cool.”

After the final match of the day, Azevedo was filled with pride as she thanked her seniors, Cho and Cedeno, for helping bring a Foothill League crown back to Valencia.

The Vikings finished the season undefeated in league.

“These seniors, they were special this year and they are really going to be missed. They are leaving some big shoes behind. Ian and Eduardo, they were freshmen on varsity, they’ve been there start to finish all four years,” Azevedo said. “It was bittersweet, you are happy to see them go on into the world and doing amazing things and I have no doubt that they will, but it’s going to be really different not to have them around. They’ve been pretty special these four years.”

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