Ravens get their boys tennis title

In his heart, Chris Black knew his Canyon Crest Academy boys tennis team was the section’s best the past two seasons. There was one problem.

There were no boys tennis seasons in 2020 and 2021.

The ’20 season was canceled by COVID and with the entire sports year condensed into the spring last year, tennis was a coed sport.

Late Saturday afternoon at the Barnes Tennis Center, the Ravens made up for lost time, defeating Bishop’s 12-6 to win the San Diego Section Open Division.

“I’m just so incredibly grateful for our seniors,” said Black. “They finally got to taste success at the highest level.”

Senior Zach Pellouchoud, the No. 1-ranked singles player in the section, led the way, winning two singles sets. After the CCA clinched the match, Pellouchoud was subbed in the third set.

In the day’s featured match, Pellouchoud defeated third-ranked Rex Harrison 7-6 (4) in front of a big crowd.

“Playing in front of a crowd is a little nerve-racking,” said Pellouchoud. “I like to remind myself it’s a privilege, enjoy the moment and don’t worry if I embarrass myself.”

The Ravens’ other senior starter, Kushal Pallaka, teamed up with Kevin Wang to win two sets.

The title was Canyon Crest’s first since 2012. Bishop’s was trying to win its first championship since 1986.

Division I.

Westview 12, Cathedral Catholic 6: At practice Friday, Wolverines coach Renee Malcuit sensed her team would be focused for the finals. “They were just so hyped about playing,” said Malcuit. “They were ready to destroy.”

Said No. 1 singles Jason Hu, “She told us, ‘You’ve gotta save something for (Saturday).'”

Turns out there was still plenty in the tank. Westview won 10 of the first 11 sets to clinch the match before the third round, then substituted backups the rest of the day.

Hu led the charge, taking all three singles sets 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

The title was Westview’s first since winning back-to-back Division II championships in 2010-11. Cathedral was attempting to win its first section crown since 2000.

Division II

Sage Creek 12, Valhalla 6: Sophomore Kouta Kodama transferred to Sage Creek from Nagasaki, Japan, last August. When tryouts commenced in February, coach Betsy Jordan had no idea how good Kodama was. Then she saw him hit.

“You better go play with the varsity,” said Jordan.

On Saturday, Kodama helped the third-seeded Bobcats defend their D-II title by sweeping his singles matches 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.

In seven seasons since the private Carlsbad school opened, Sage Creek has won two section titles with one runner-up finish.

“When we practice, I can’t get the guys to go home,” said Jordan. “They have so much fun they don’t want to leave.”

Division III

Canyon Hills 11, Otay Ranch 7: The No. 1-seeded Rattlers dominated doubles, winning eight of the nine matches. The tandems of Ben Prager-Kenny Elkern and Brendan Barber-Jake Langenderfer swept all three matches.

Formerly Serra High, the school has been open since 1976. The boys title was the first in school history.

The Rattlers are an eclectic bunch, the team including co-valedictorians, an Eagle Scout, a lead theater actor and a member of the robotics team.

“The best part was the process,” said coach YY Liew, who also coaches the badminton team. “Watching them come together, making it work.”

For sixth-seeded Otay, MJ Abarca swept all 12 of his singles matches in the tourney by 6-0 scores.

Norcross is a freelance writer.

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