By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Staff Writer
West Ranch boys’ tennis took home first-place medals in singles and doubles in Foothill League preliminaries after repeating as league champions.
Wildcats No. 1 Jared Admiraal capped off his undefeated season as the Foothill League singles champion, winning his final match 6-0, 6-1 against Hart’s Jack Burns.
West Ranch’s No. 1 doubles duo of Bryce Blaugrund and Xander Hepburn took home the gold hardware after defeating Hart’s Thomas Auerbach Dinculescu and Ashton Milner 6-4, 6-2.
Both pairs played quality tennis highlighted by strong serving from each side.
Hart’s duo came into the final match after a long semifinal matchup with Valencia’s pair of Aditya Patki and Aiden Reyes. The Indians won the marathon match 2-6, 6-4, 10-6.
The Vikings also fell short in the other doubles semifinal match with Blaugrund and Hepburn beating James Donkels and Aditya Kotha 6-3, 6-2.
The Wildcat duo displayed tough serving, good volleying and some crafty moves on the net.
In doubles finals, Hart got off to a good start in the second set, taking a 2-1 lead. Hepburn and Blaugrund then caught fire, winning five straight games to clinch the gold.
“We went into a mindset of whatever happens, happens,” said Blaugrund. “We played great, worked really well together and came out winners.”
The two are on an absurd win streak since being placed together earlier in the season and have lost just one match since joining forces.
“I would definitely not be here without Bryce,” said Hepburn. “I think we’re just, for doubles, a superb team and really dominated this entire season.”
Admiraal faced teammate Alex King in the semifinals, and King went on to play in the third-place match against teammate Ian Nicodemus. Thus, showcasing West Ranch’s depth in the tennis program and that they’re not just top-heavy.
The depth has been a big part of the Wildcats’ success as the team got wins from up and down its roster throughout the season.
“I knew from the beginning that they were motivated,” said West Ranch head coach Jackie Resler. “We all agreed this is what we want. We want to be back-to-back champions.”
Admiraal again controlled his championship match with Burns with big serves and consistently hitting his marks.
“I was feeling good today. I was playing at my best,” said Admiraal. “I think Jack was tired from his last match, too.”
Burns was pretty beat from his marathon semifinals match but still worked and kept up with the undefeated Wildcat. Burns downed Nicodemus 6-2, 2-6, 10-7.
Hart would come up with a pair of silver medals, ending a fantastic regular season in which the Indians finished co-runners up with Valencia.
Hart and West Ranch will now send their top players off to team playoffs and CIF playoffs. The Indian and West Ranch medalists will likely need to give their all when facing the best in the CIF Southern Section.
“I just want to see them continue that fight,” said Hart tennis coach Allen Hardbarger. “The team has some great chemistry this year. They all really root for each other. I’m just going to enjoy the ride here and want to see this team play as much as possible because they’re a lot of fun to be with.”
The teams will find out their path to the top on Monday at 11 a.m. when the CIF SS brackets are released.
“I am [proud],” said Resler. “But I want to make sure the boys know the work doesn’t stop here. We still have more to go.”