Tennis anyone? East County teams find success on the court

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Granite Hills High School junior Pierce Meyers returns service in a recent match.

The Grossmont Conference’s boys tennis teams had a chance to get in a full load of non-league matches, and even a few league games, over the first month of the spring season.

Last year was kind to East County teams. Monte Vista defeated West Hills, 10-8, to win the San Diego Section Division III team championship while Steele Canyon finished runner-up to Sage Creek (by a 12-6 score) in the Division II final.

Steele Canyon is looking for renewed fortunes this season, according to coach Jerry Segawa.

“We only graduated two starters, so we were thinking we would be pretty competitive this year,” Segawa said. “So far, this season has been very good.”

The Cougars started the season by placing first at the First Serve tournament, held Feb. 23 at Valhalla and Granite Hills high schools presented by the San Diego Section and the USTA/Southern California Section.

Steele Canyon entered the spring break undefeated (7-0) with victories against St Augustine, Monte Vista, El Captain, Valhalla, Grossmont, Santana and Helix.

Junior Colin Hoggart returns as the Cougars’ No. 1 singles player. He has won the league championship the past two years.

Sam Greenbergs has only lost two matches as the team’s No. 2 singles player.

“Both of these players, as well as Matt Zieske and Eduardo Mendez — all four being this year’s captains — have served as leaders of the team, inspired and motivated our team to victory,” Segawa said. “Our main goal is to provide an athletic team experience within the high school environment while being as competitive as possible.”

Steele Canyon has won 14 league titles — 12 under Segawa’s supervision.

“We have been to the CIF finals twice, but unfortunately have never won,” Segawa said. “Our ultimate goal would be to be a CIF champion.”

The San Diego Section team tournament is scheduled April 27 to May 1, culminating in four division champions.

Valhalla will host the league individual tournament May 4-8, followed by the CIF individual tournament May 11-15 at the Balboa Tennis Club.

Eastern exposure

The Cougars aren’t the only East County team finding success this spring.

The Valhalla Norsemen posted a 4-2 overall record to open the season, including an undefeated 2-0 mark in league play.

Valhalla opened the season with a 10-8 non-league loss to visiting Helix on Feb. 20, then defeated host El Cajon Valley 9-0 on Feb. 25 before dropping a 17-0 decision to visiting Steele Canyon on Feb. 27.

The Norsemen defeated neighborhood rival Granite Hills, 12-6, on March 3 to open Grossmont Valley League play and won a tiebreaker, 79-68 in games, against visiting El Capitan on March 5 to remain undefeated in league play.

Valhalla swept visiting Orange Glen, 18-0, in a non-league contest on March 6.

The tandems of Drake Jacques-Evan Knuteson and Brady Francisco-Indiana Schafer each swept their three sets against Granite Hills while the duo of Laith Marrow-Fadi Youhana won two more.

Jackson Juhl won 6-0 and the doubles team of Jacques-Knuteson won 6-2 to force a 9-9 tie against El Capitan to allow the host Norsemen to emerge on top in total games and improve to 2-0 in league play.

Juhl swept his three singles matches by scores of 6-4 (against Trevor Tatman), 6-2 (against Dania Kluchar) and 6-0 (against Diego Sarmiento) while Michael Cabusaou picked up 6-2 and 6-1 wins as Valhalla emerged on top 5-4 in singles play.

El Capitan won the doubles play 5-4 as the teams settled for a standoff in sets.

Timothy Mehrer and Brandon Rogers swept their three doubles matchups for the Vaqueros, winning by scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. The El Capitan tandem of Joshua Bertussi-Lance Oslie managed 6-3 and 7-6 wins.

The Norsemen swept all sets in the non-league win over Orange Glen, winning 9-0 in singles and 9-0 in doubles.

Valhalla’s singles lineup included Juhl, Knuteson, Farida, Jacques and Cabusao, who swept by scores of 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. Knuteson won 6-0, 6-1 while Farida won 6-1, 6-0. Juhl won 6-0 while Jacques won 6-2.

The doubles team of Francisco-Schafer won 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 while the duo of Yousif Marooki-Marrow won 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.

Bakayou and Kentish won 6-0, 6-0 while Steven Hsu and Donovan Zeto paried up to post a 6-2 win.

Steele Canyon won all singles and doubles to complete a sweep.

The Cougars’ singles lineup included Hoggart, Greenbergs and Christian Kassab. Hoggart won by scores of 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 while Greenbergs won by scores of 6-2, 6-0, 6-2. Kassab won by scores of 7-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Steele Canyon’s doubles included tandems of Joey Heald-Izo Yako, Elliot Balereit-Adain Connor, and Mendez-Zieske.

Purple Nation

Santana carried some purple pride into the spring break with a 6-2 record.

The Sultans opened the season with a 13-5 non-league win against visiting St. Augustine on Feb. 18, followed by a 16-2 win at neighborhood rival West Hills on Feb. 20.

Santana defeated visiting Patrick Henry 15-3 on Feb. 21 before blanking Granite Hills 18-0 on Feb. 25. The Sultans defeated host Monte Vista 14-4 on Feb. 26 to conclude a busy month of February.

Santana dropped a 10-8 home match to Vincent Memorial on March 3 but rebounded with a 16-2 non-league win over visiting University City on March 6.

The Sultans dropped their Grossmont Hills League opener, 11-7, at Steele Canyon on March 4.

Santana swept all singles and doubles matches against visiting Granite Hills.

Cole Hunter, Kaj Salzano and Brayden Lelevier won all their singles sets for a 9-0 sweep. Hunter won by scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 while Salzano won by scores of 6-0, 6-0, 6-0. Lelevier won by scores of 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.

The Sultans’ doubles teams were also able to win all of their sets for another 9-0 sweep. Pairings included Auston Knight-Joey Marquez, Trevor Kerkman-Nick Barry, Shawn Gibbens-Trevor Boen and Jaylen Lee-Alex Glasgo.

Granite Hills’ singles lineup included Pierce Meyers, Austin Hanna and Yousif Shamoun.

The Eagles’ doubles teams included Anthony Doroshuk and Hayden Loarie, Ramses Lara and Larry Witt and Fadi Alsamaani and Cameron Arana.

Hunter, Salzano and Lelevier swept their singles matches against St. Augustine while the doubles tandem of Knight-Marquez swept their three sets.

Hunter, Salzano and Lelevier went 9-0 in singles against Patrick Henry while the duo of Knight-Marquez swept their three sets. Kerkman and Barry won two of their three sets against the Patriots.

Knight and Marquez swept their doubles matchups against Monte Vista as did the tandem of Kerkman-Barry. Gibbens and Boen went 2-0.

Hunter, Salzano and Lelevier all went 2-1.

Monte Vista’s singles lineup included Abel Martinez, Alex Basar and Ruben Mendoza. Martinez swept his three matchups.

The Monarchs’ doubles lineup included Michael Rivino and Jaciel Galeana, Anthony Cleveland and Gavin Sarzyniak and Alex Nguyen and Arturo Arana.