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Wilson, Skaja/Kendall reach league finals

The Valley League boys tennis tournament took place April 22-23 at San Pasqual High School, and Fallbrook senior Anthony Wilson reached the singles final while the Fallbrook tandem of junior Connor Skaja and sophomore Micah Kendall advanced to the doubles championship match.

All semifinalists qualified for the CIF tournament, and a backdraw with the quarterfinals losers determined the fifth-place singles and doubles players who would continue their season at the CIF competition. Fallbrook's doubles team of sophomore Billy Mathewson and freshman Casey Manion won both of their backdraw matches to take fifth place and the berth in the CIF tournament.

Each school was allowed four singles players and four doubles teams at the league tournament although Fallbrook only had two singles players. Skaja and Kendall played singles during the season's dual matches. "They wanted to play doubles," said Fallbrook coach Bill Lenaway.

Skaja and Kendall also played doubles in last year's league tournament when Fallbrook was in the Avocado League, but they lost in the first round.

Fallbrook's other singles player, sophomore Gunnar Wiessner, lost a 6-0, 6-2 match in the first round to San Pasqual senior Joshua Bredel. Wilson faced Ramona junior Ricky Dinero in the first round. The first set was tied at six games apiece, triggering a tiebreaking game to seven points, and Wilson won the 7-4 tiebreaker. He then defeated Dinero in the 6-4 second set.

"That was a tough match," he said.

Wilson will be attending Yale University when the 2024-25 academic year begins. He attended a week-long orientation session at Yale the week before the league tournament and had not practiced while he was in Connecticut. "Getting back into the game was difficult," he said.

The tournament had 17 doubles teams so all but two of those had first-round byes including the four Fallbrook duos. In a round of 16 match involving four freshmen Escondido partners Diego Garcia and Bryan Pablo defeated the Fallbrook contingent of Adrian Del Razo and Erik Shaver in 6-0 and 6-2 sets. Ramona seniors Avery Baldridge and Noah Furchner eliminated Fallbrook freshmen Ariel Perez and Everett Zietz in a 6-1, 6-1 match. Mathewson and Manion began play with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Ramona freshmen James Hayes and Thomas Wilson. Skaja and Kendall won 6-1 and 6-0 sets against San Pasqual seniors Elian Duarte and Daniel Mejia.

Anthony Wilson faced San Pasqual sophomore Axel Carrillo in the quarterfinals and took a 6-2, 6-0 victory. "I was happy with it," Wilson said. "I was pretty happy that I pulled through and kept on going."

Mathewson and Manion were relegated to the backdraw after a three-set quarterfinals loss to Rancho Buena Vista juniors Darrian Norton and Mohammed Quraishi. Mathewson and Manion won the 6-4 first set. Norton and Quraishi countered with a 7-5 triumph in the second set. If the first two sets are split a tiebreaking game to ten points determines the match winner, and the tiebreaking game must be won by at least two points. The score of the tiebreaker was 12-10 when Norton and Quraishi advanced to the semifinals.

Skaja and Kendall had a quarterfinals match against the Rancho Bernardo tandem of junior Brandon Phan and sophomore Edwin Chen. The Fallbrook players won 6-1 and 6-3 sets.

Mathewson and Manion faced Garcia and Pablo in the first round of the backdraw and won that 6-3, 6-1 match. The fifth-place match pitted Mathewson and Manion against the Rancho Bernardo team of junior Victor Taverez and sophomore Alexander Gallegos. Matthewson and Manion earned fifth place and the CIF tournament berth with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph.

"We played really well," Matthewson said.

"We did what we were supposed to do," Manion said.

"They actually played really well during the tournament," Lenaway said.

"I'm just impressed," Lenaway said. "I was very happy for them."

Mathewson and Wiessner played doubles in last year's Avocado League tournament and lost their first-round match. Manion ended his first league tournament with fifth place. "I think it was just a really awesome experience," Manion said.

Wilson's semifinal match was against Bredel, who had the fourth seed in the league tournament. "Being able to go against him was one of the matches I knew was going to be pretty daunting," Wilson said.

A 6-3, 6-0 victory advanced Wilson to the final. Skaja and Kendall reached the doubles final with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Baldridge and Furchner.

Rancho Buena Vista junior Daniel Gonzalez won the singles championship with a 6-0, 6-1 victory at Wilson's expense. "That one was definitely a tough loss," Wilson said.

Gonzalez had the top singles seed in the tournament. Wilson was seeded second. "I think he played up to his seeding," Lenaway said.

Wilson lost in the second round of last year's Avocado League tournament.

The doubles championship was won by the Rancho Buena Vista duo of senior Andrew Cupin and junior Regis Mariadasan. They defeated Skaja and Kendall in 6-3 and 6-4 sets.

"That was winnable. All games are winnable, but they were a lot better than the teams we were playing before," Kendall said. "It was just a bit of a shock."

Lenaway noted that Cupin and Mariadasan had played doubles throughout the season. "To me that was kind of the difference in that match," Lenaway said.

"We're singles players; we're not doubles players," Skaja said. "They had more experience than us."

"They definitely looked like two singles players playing doubles," Lenaway said.

Skaja and Kendall improved their performance from their doubles play last year. "We did a lot better, second place compared to out first round," Kendall said.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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