West Ranch Wildcats boys’ tennis followed up its third straight Foothill League title with a bang at league finals on Wednesday at the Paseo Club.
The Wildcats took home gold in singles and doubles for the second straight year, with a ton of familiar faces from the 2022 championship team.
Senior Jared Admiraal yet again blazed through the singles brackets and took home his second league championship in singles. Admiraal defeated Castaic’s Ian Ramirez in the singles final, 6-0, 6-0.
“I was feeling great,” Admiraal said. “I was in the zone the whole time. All my serves were all going in. So, I felt pretty much perfect.”
Ramirez stormed through the singles bracket, where he took down two Vikings and Hart No. 1 Anthony Lipa in a long three-game match in the semifinals.
“Ian’s a great player,” Admiraal said. “He has a big lefty serve so I was just trying to mentally prepare myself because it spins differently.”
In doubles, senior Bryce Blaugrund returned to the top with his new partner Kaden Sasaki. Blaugrund and Sasaki defeated Valencia No. 1 doubles Lauclan Bohrnsen and Vedant Khadiya in a long championship bout. West Ranch prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 10-8.
“Even though we had a long match, we knew we really wanted that end goal of winning the tournament,” Blaugrund said. “We were able to correct our mistakes and push through with all the energy we had left in the tank in order to achieve that goal.”
The Wildcat duo knew they’d likely have to face the Valencia pair, who were Blaugrund and Sasaki’s one league loss of the season. The Vikings managed to bounce back and capitalize on some West Ranch mistakes in the second game and forced a long third.
“In the third-set tiebreak, we wanted to focus on holding as many points on our serves as possible and hoped that we could get just a couple breaks on their serves,” Sasaki said. “We weren’t able to hold as many points on our serve as we wanted, but we did get points on their serves at crucial moments in the tiebreak. The score stayed within one or two points throughout the tiebreak, with lots of lead changes throughout.”
The West Ranch pair defeated all Valencia doubles teams and Hart’s team of Kyle Martinez and Owen Rusk to reach the summit.
Bohrnsen and Khadiya reached the championship match after wins over doubles teams from Golden Valley and Hart. The Valencia pair battled in the semifinals against the heat and Saugus’ Sean Paduska and Sean Pacheco. The silver duo won the semifinals match, 6-1, 6-2.
Blaugrund joins Admiraal as a back-to-back champion, after winning last year with his graduated partner Xander Hepburn. Cats coach Jackie Resler brought together two different styles in Sasaki and Blaugrund, but the formula proved to be a winning one.
“They work well together and complement the skills,” Resler said. “Bryce is a solid volleyer and Kaden excels at the baseline. These two rely on each other in their strengths and they both cover the weaknesses well.”
The doubles champs realized early in the season how different their playing styles were. However, through great communication with one another, they put together the pieces of league champions.
“Kaden and I play very different styles of play, but they complement each other very well,” Blaugrund said. “Also, our communication improved throughout the season, allowing us to discuss our mistakes transparently with each other.”
Valencia No. 2 doubles Noah Kim and Justin Lavalle defeated the Saugus Sean duo in the third-place match 3-6, 7-5.
Poduska and Pachecho had a long run in the heat before falling in their final two matches. The Saugus pair won, 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 in the first round of play before taking down Golden Valley 6-2, 6-4.
Lipa was also pushed in the early rounds before falling to Ramirez. The Hart sophomore took down West Ranch’s Ethan Park, 6-2, 6-4, before besting Saugus’ Mathew Tolosa 7-5, 6-4.
The Wildcats will graduate Blaugrund and Admiraal, but again retain half of the championship doubles team in Sasaki. Admiraal has his sights on UCSD tennis but will study aerospace engineering either way down south.
It was another fantastic year for tennis in the Foothill League. Resler will aim for the program’s fourth straight title but still hope to keep the same culture of hard work with plenty of fun.
“I loved the team this year,” Admiraal said. “Everyone was super supportive of each other. We really clicked well together and everyone really got along with everyone else. So, it was a lot of fun.”