The top two boys tennis programs in the Foothill League this year, Valencia and West Ranch, are well-represented on the 2019 All-Foothill League teams.
Valencia’s Ian Cho and Gabriel Chavez were selected to the First Team Singles along with Charlie Spina of West Ranch. Two Vikings doubles teams, Stephen Thay and Eduardo Cedeno plus Brent Lim and Ellis Bosarge were named to the First Team Doubles as was West Ranch’s Connor Schloemer and Rohan Ramrattan.
Cho had an eventful senior campaign, going 40-7 overall and 27-2 in league, capped off with a first-place finish at the Foothill League finals.
He earned his first trip to the CIF-Southern Section Individual Championships, falling in the second round after winning his first match handily.
“This year at the team banquet, we gave Ian the most inspirational player award. He was not only a senior and a leader and a team captain, but he was the guy who put in time after practice, he did that for all four years,” said Valencia head coach Jen Azevedo. “He worked so hard and it was so special for him this year to finally be seen. This year was really special and he really stepped up.”
Chavez was a dominant player all year for the Vikings. He served as the No. 1 singles player, racking up a 39-6 overall record and a 19-1 league record.
The gritty sophomore played through injuries during the season and was determined to help lead his team to an undefeated league record. In the playoffs, he injured his finger but refused to come out, a common theme for Chavez throughout the year.
He defeated his teammate Cho to win the Spring Smash Tournament.
“He had a wonderful breakout year as a freshman last year, came out on the scene and proved that he was legit. To see the Gabriel that came back as a sophomore who was more assured, more confident and a little bigger and a little stronger, everything stepped up for him,” Azevedo said. “He was really impressive to see. He’s always striving to get better, making something better.”
While Spina displayed a very calm and easy-going demeanor, he was anything but on the courts.
The Wildcats’ No. 1 singles player won his matches in a number of different ways, playing aggressive at the net, playing a sound defensive game or just using his well-rounded approach.
“Charlie is an amazing guy and I cannot imagine having another person that fit as such a great leader other than him,” said West Ranch head coach Jackie Resler. “It’s always nice to have that No. 1 player who is very patient, he stays in the zone, he doesn’t let a lot of things bother him. I think that’s exactly what a lot of the boys need to see. The example he sets of his mentality on the court and how he’s able to keep pushing through and keep fighting.”
Thay and Cedeno combined to form a dynamic duo that went undefeated in league (15-0) and 19-2 overall.
The pair finished in first place at the Foothill League Finals and in second place at Spring Smash. They earned a first-round bye at the CIF-SS Individual Championships and didn’t drop a game in their second-round match to advance. They lost by three points in a tiebreaker set in a hard-fought match in the third round.
“They are best buds on the court and off the court and I think that made them so good as a doubles team. They just fed off each other, if one of them missed the other one is right there with a smile and a high five and pump up,” Azevedo said. “They were the easiest kids to coach because even if they weren’t doing well you knew they were still together. There was never going to be any divide between them or separation.”
Their teammates, Lim and Bosarge, served as another one of Valencia’s strong doubles teams, going 15-7 overall and 11-5 in league. They defeated Thay and Cedeno in the finals of the Spring Smash Tournament, and came in third place at the Foothill League finals.
Lim’s infectious smile and Bosarge’s unmatched effort made the pair one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league.
“I really thought that Ellis and Brent together this year brought out the best in each other’s games. They allowed the other player to play freely and with confidence,” Azevedo said. “ They had some slip ups here and there, but they were so tough together and you always wanted it for them because they were always so happy to be out there.”
When teaming up Schloemer and Ramrattan later on in the season, Resler came upon a happy accident. The duo didn’t start the season playing together, but came together flawlessly when they were paired together.
Ramrattan served as more of a vocal leader and Schloemer followed his lead, but what made them such a strong team was the ability to communicate with ease.
“To have an amazing doubles team like those two, they have perfect chemistry, they both listen to each other. It was so beautiful how they both worked well together,” Resler said. “I wish I had put them together sooner. It was a pleasant surprise and a treat for me and both Connor and Rohan. It worked out so well.”
The Second Team Singles consists of West Ranch’s Alec Robertson, Hart’s Luke Papayoanou and Golden Valley’s Dylan Yu.
The Second Team Doubles is comprised of two teams from Hart, Jeremy Killian and Jack Burns, plus Spencer Kline and Sam Fossa, and Golden Valley’s Chris Guerra and Javier Gonzalez round out the honorees.
Jessie Lara from Canyon, Logan Detwiler from Golden Valley, Jax Liescheidt from Hart, Lawrence Lam from Saugus, Matt Young from Valencia and Sam Vila from West Ranch all received honorable mention.