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Big serves and tough opponents end CHS tennis season

Claremont’s top 4 tennis players competed at the University of Redlands last weekend to determine the Division II individual champions in doubles and singles. Cameron and Konrad Lorek took the court as partners, and Andrew and Alan Leahy took aim at the top singles players in the Southland.

 A tough day concluded for Claremont athletes when the day’s top Wolfpack performer Alan Leahy fell in the third round of play to Austin Rapp of Rancho Mirage.

The Sierra League’s number 2 doubles team, the Lorek brothers, partnered to take on Anat Pai and Bon Louie Angeles of Redlands, the Citrus Belt League’s second-ranked pairing. The Loreks took the match to their opponents knowing they would need to attack the Redlands team and force them to make mistakes. A thrilling first set swung Redlands’ way, as Pai and Angeles edged the Loreks in a tiebreaker. With that momentum gone, the Loreks fell in the second set, losing 7-6, 6-2 on the day.

Andrew Leahy took on senior Mario Sommer from San Gorgonio High and the nation of Germany, whose number-4 national ranking there meant that he posed a formidable threat. Leahy proved no pushover coming in as the Sierra League’s number-2 singles player. The match was a display of athleticism, with the height and accuracy of Leahy being matched by Sommer’s speed and agility.

Sommer won the first set 6-4, but had a much more difficult time in the second set. After going down 5-2 and chucking his racket against the surface, Leahy found the second wind he needed. Leahy used a combination of lethal first serves and angled cross-court groundstrokes to battle all the way back to 6-6 and force a tiebreak. Sommer, however, held his nerve and used a questionable line call to win the tiebreak 7-4. Leahy’s performance, would clearly be an encouragement to his older brother Alan, who was scheduled to play the next match of the day.

Freshman Andrew Leahy described his approach to the match after the loss.

“I took the pace off the ball and was going for the corners,” Leahy said. “He is really quick side-to-side but had nothing on his balls, making him frustrating to play. I wanted to wait for the right shot to pull the trigger, and not show him too many things in a row. He was going to make me beat him. As I start getting stronger I should be able to rip him off the court. My brother and I will work all summer on our game and our physical fitness.”

Alan Leahy’s number-one ranking in the Sierra League meant that he took a first round bye, and matched up with Patrick Cachapero of Redlands. Azusa Pacific-bound Leahy had the size advantage and a number of weapons in his arsenal, including a devastating kick serve and patient groundstrokes. Cachapero had a solid first serve, but proved to be erratic in his hitting, making a number of early unforced errors.

Leahy got his man to 5-2 in the first set after a high forehand winner to the advantage side, and a kick serve that nearly bounced over Cachapero’s head. Cachapero held serve to make it 5-3, but Leahy finished the set at love with another flawless first serve. The first set would prove that Leahy had what it took to cruise to a straight set victory.

Cachapero’s resolve dwindled in the second set, and he began to make more mistakes. Leahy sliced an approach winner after an 8-shot rally to make it 1-0, then smacked a forehand down the line to add to his lead. At 5-0, the last game was a formality. Leahy hit a cross-court winner at 30-love, then another overwhelming kick serve to close out the match.

Alan Leahy moved on to the third round to face a familiar foe. In a classic match-up, Leahy faced southern California’s third-ranked player Austin Rapp from Redlands. The 2 had met twice before, with Alan winning both prior events, one in CIF team competition and the other in a USTA tournament finals.

Rapp took the first set 6-2, as Alan?Leahy’s serve uncharacteristically,  needed calibration. After trailing early in the second set, Alan regrouped to go up 6-5. Rapp was able to hold serve, however, forcing the tiebreak. Rapp squeaked away with the tiebreak win and Alan lost in the third round, bringing his campaign to an end. The last Claremont High athlete in competition is finally finished, a bittersweet conclusion to an exciting sports season.

—Chris Oakley

sports@claremont-courier.com

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