Village News Reporter
Fallbrook High School’s 2023 boys tennis team had only six players, which kept the Warriors from winning matches, but Fallbrook coach Bill Lenaway was pleased with how the players performed.
“I’m not disappointed in the way my guys played,” Lenaway said. “I just think it’s unfortunate for my guys that we didn’t have enough players.”
A high school tennis match consists of each of a school’s three singles players contesting sets against each of the other school’s singles players and each of a school’s three doubles teams facing each of the other school’s doubles tandems.
A team thus must have at least nine players to avoid forfeiting sets. Each of Fallbrook’s 2023 opponents won six sets by forfeit. “You’re starting the match down 0-6, it’s pretty tough,” Lenaway said.
Four of the six players had not played prior to this year. “You can’t expect those guys to win a lot of sets,” Lenaway said. “The rest of the team did everything they could.”
Fallbrook’s only win this year was by a 10-8 score, March 8, against Ramona at the Riviera Oaks Racquet Club where Ramona High School home matches are played. That translates into winning 10 of the 12 contested matches.
“The fact that we won a match with six guys was, I thought, pretty impressive,” Lenaway said. “I was pretty happy about that.” If each team wins nine sets, the tiebreaker of games won determines the match winner.
The 36 forfeited games gave Orange Glen the match April 14 in Fallbrook even though Fallbrook junior Anthony Wilson won two 6-0 sets and a 6-1 contest, while sophomore Connor Skaja and freshman Micah Kendall both swept their sets with 6-0, 6-1, and 6-4 wins.
The loss to Orange Glen closed out the regular season for Fallbrook. The tennis team playoff competition is based on the cumulative universal tennis rating data for each of a team's players.
The teams with the eight highest UTR totals play in the Open Division playoffs, the next 16 teams are in Division I, the teams with the 24th to 40th UTR totals compete in the Division II postseason and schools whose UTR ranked 41st through 56th, along with any league champions who received automatic playoff berths, are Division III participants.
Last year Fallbrook was seeded 12th seed in the Division II playoffs and lost in the first round to fifth-seeded Steele Canyon.
Wilson has a UTR of 4, Skaja and Kendall each have a 3 UTR as does freshman Sid Nestman, and freshmen Billy Mathewson and Gunnar Wiessner both have a UTR of 1. Had Fallbrook had three other players, even with a UTR of 1, the Warriors would have obtained entry into the team playoffs.
“We didn’t have enough guys to have a cumulative UTR,” Lenaway said. “It wasn’t a matter of quality. It was quantity.”
The North County Conference adjusts leagues for each sport based on competitive balance. Last year Fallbrook was 7-3 in Valley League play and shared second in the standings.
This year the Warriors were placed in the Avocado League as were 2022 Valley League members Mission Hills and Valley Center. The 2023 Avocado League also included La Costa Canyon and Sage Creek.
The Avocado League tournament took place April 24-25 at Fallbrook. “I didn’t have any issues with the way anybody performed,” Lenaway said.
The first two rounds were played April 24 and consisted of one-set matches with the first player or doubles team to capture ten sets prevailing. Skaja teamed with Kendall in doubles, and in the first round they lost a 10-7 set to the La Costa Canyon tandem of junior Mario Grillet and freshman Jacob Gamett.
Mathewson and Wiessner lost their first-round doubles match against Sage Creek seniors Nate Decamp and Noah Kopman by a 10-1 score.
Fallbrook’s two singles players in the league tournament both lost in the round of 16. Nestman had a first-round bye but lost a 10-2 match against La Costa Canyon senior Ryan Carmichael, who would place fourth in the league tournament.
“That was the luck of the draw,” Lenaway said of Nestman’s elimination. “He could have progressed further if he got a better draw, but that’s the way tennis works.”
Wilson was the only Fallbrook player to win at the league tournament. His first-round match was a 10-8 victory over Mission Hills sophomore Alexander Khan. Wilson then played La Costa Canyon senior Emilio Rodea, who won the 10-3 match.
“He played him tough. He just couldn’t quite beat him,” Lenaway said. “He did a really good job,” Lenaway said of Wilson. “My other guys did, too.”
Not only did Fallbrook have only six players this year, but none of them are seniors. “My hope next year is we have a full team and we can compete,” Lenaway said.