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After tough loss, CHS tennis eyes CIF

After tough loss, CHS boys tennis team advances to CIF playoffs

It was heartbreak time for 3 members of the Claremont High School varsity tennis team, who fell to Ayala after advancing to the finals in Sierra League competition on Wednesday, May 2 at The Claremont Club.

The Wolfpack’s loss in singles competition came after a nearly 3-hour grudge match between CHS junior Alan Leahy and Ayala’s Tomas Aranguiz.  Tomas also knocked out CHS sophomore Brandon Yeoh during semi-finals earlier in the day.

The contest (7-5, 5-7, 2-6) turned in Ayala’s favor in the third set, when cramping muscles cramped Alan’s cross-court style and Tomas capitalized on an end-game burst of energy.

“It was actually a bit emotional. [Alan’s] heart was really invested in it,” head coach Louise Miclat said. “It was hard to see him lose, but he gave it his all. He played like a champion out there.”

Alan (3-0 in league) should find consolation in his recent selection as Sierra League MVP. He also remains very much in the game. As the league’s second-place singles player, he will go on to compete for a CIF Individual title on Friday, May 18. After taking third-place in a consolation round, Brandon Yeoh will be Alan’s alternate.

Joining Alan at CIF-Southern Section Individual playoffs will be the CHS doubles team of Carter Hafif and Joshua Yu. After winning a semifinals match against South Hills and then losing in the finals to Erik Martinez and Lyle Regalado of Ayala (6-0, 6-2), the boys are the league’s second-place double’s team.

If they want to get CIF wins, the Wolfpack will have to tap into all of their resources, coach Miclat said. “It’s about upping your mental game.”

Players focus too often on the things they’re doing wrong, she noted. Her advice? 

“Instead of focusing on what you should be doing, focus on what you’re doing right,” coach Miclat suggested. “You’ve got to say, ‘I’m doing this well. I’m going to keep at it.’”

The team as a whole heads as Sierra League Champs to CIF Team playoffs on Wednesday, May 9. Coach Miclat’s goal is for the team—which stalled last year in the second round—to advance at least one more round this time.  She believes in fostering incremental improvements, and celebrates “the little steps.”

“It’s really tough to change a game in one season. Tennis is a big development game—that’s why people start playing when they’re 6,” she said. “You can play for 12 years and still not be as good as you want to be.”

The players give much of the credit for their league championship to coach Miclat, who is in her first year helming the boys varsity tennis team. Though she feels she’s “too soft” on the team, her student athletes say she is a stickler for rigorous conditioning, which has paid off in spades.

“Her motivation helped me get through some tough matches this year. It was good for me,” Alan said. “This is my best season I’ve had in high school tennis.”

–Sarah Torribio

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