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Boys tennis caps powerhouse season with CIF title

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Claremont High School boys tennis completed their relentless march through the postseason, clinching a CIF Southern Section Division 1 title by defeated Palos Verdes on Friday in Palos Verdes.

The boys’ 12-6 victory is the first CIF D1 championship in the Inland Valley and the first for boys tennis won back-to-back CIF-SS DIII championships in 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, Coach Kathy Settles is just the third woman to lead a boys team to the championships since CIF began keeping records in 1929.

“After coming so close to winning a title with the girls, I have a better appreciation for how difficult it is to actually cross the finish line,” Coach Settles said. “This team was able to maintain the energy, discipline, focus and determination. All those things you really need to play your best tennis under pressure. I just appreciate that accomplishment so much because I know how difficult it is to have all of your players playing their best tennis at the same time.”

Led by the team’s number one singles player, junior Brody Bohren, the Pack entered the final match with wins over Sage Hill High School, 15-3, Northwood High School, 13-5, and Foothill High School, 13-5.

The top of the singles and doubles lineup got off to a strong start in the first round with convincing wins at number one and number two singles, and doubles losing only one game in the four matches.

That put the Pack ahead, 4-2, going into the second round. Number one doubles team of senior, Joey Anagnos and freshman Caleb Settles (who is Coach Settles son), kept the momentum going with a 6-4 win in the second round. Junior Ronald Chen came through with a 6-4 win over Palos Verdes’ best player, Nathan Blakey, and Bohren dominated his match with a 6-1 win. 

A pivotal set was won by the Pack’s number two doubles team, senior Lucas Rival and sophomore Lance Lao.  Facing three match points, they raised their level of play winning five consecutive points to even the score at 5-5. They would eventually go on to win the set 7-6 (6) giving the Pack an 8-4 lead heading into the last round.

“With only two matches needed to clinch, the Pack played with an unparalleled determination to cross the finish line to the title,” according to Coach Settles.

Anagnos and Settles brought the team within one match of victory with a 6-1 win in their last set. Ronald Chen finished the task with a 6-2 win. But Claremont wasn’t done with Palos Verdes. Freshman DJ Brownlee added a third match in round three with a 6-1 win, and Bohren put an exclamation point on the victory with a 7-6 (7) win over Blakey. 

Bohren went 12-0 in the post season, followed by Chen at 10-1 and Brownlee at 9-3. On the doubles side Anagnos and settles were 11-1, while Rival Lao went 9-3.

“These boys were so absolutely laser focused and had so much energy and devotion to their teammates, it was amazing,” Coach Settles said.

While looking at the CIF record books to verify that Claremont was actually the first local team to win a D1 title, Coach settles became curious about how many women had led a boys team to a championship

“There have been a handful of them scattered about. Among division one teams, I am among a group of just three,” Coach Settles said. “How great is that—there are women out there coaching boys because if you look back, it’s mostly guys coaching guys.”

With team competition concluded, several members of the girls and boys teams look towards CIF Southern Section Individuals. Goldie La qualified for the tournament, which runs June 9 and 10, and the doubles team of Jahday Drewery and Caren Uribe was selected by the CIF to participate. The boys individual playoffs will be June 16 and 17 but the qualifiers have yet to be announced.

Coach Settles is not a boastful person, however, when she started coaching the CHS girls team in 2015, the Pack had a virtual revolving door at the head coach position for a few years and tied for last place in league the previous season.

Now the Wolfpack dominates the Palomares League with dual league championships this year, while in 2019 Claremont girls tennis lost a heartbreaker in the CIF finals to Woodbridge in a match that came down to counting games.

Much of the credit goes to the players, of course, and Claremont has had the good fortune lately to attract a string of talented teenagers. But all that talent is a rudderless ship without the right leader. Asked about her success at CHS, Coach Settles said the secret is another one of her teams—her marriage to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s tennis coach Paul Settles.

“Being married to a coach makes me a better coach,” Coach Settles said. “I think that helps me a lot, having Paul by my side is a huge bonus for me.

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