The Rams Boys Tennis team won the championship at the 16th Annual Pete Brown First Serve Tournament on Saturday in Torrance, nabbing the narrowest of victories in the final match.
The format for the tournament differed from regular round-robin play so that more matches could be played in one day. The Rams were well aware of the games tiebreaker procedures coming into the tournament. In last year’s tournament, Temple City just missed a spot in the final, losing the games tiebreaker by a mere two games. The stakes were even closer this time around. The Rams dominated their group to earn a spot in the Championship against host school West High School. With a 3-3 ties in sets, the Rams would take home the trophy by winning the games tiebreaker 35-34.
In the championship match, Ryan Lee was the the first match off the court, earning an 8-2 victory. Spencer Chen and Justin Jia would soon follow win an 8-2 triumph of their own. After a scoring controversy on the singles one court, Jimmy Xu fell 1-8. The other three matches all came down to the wire.
Jason Chen and Justin Lee soared to a 7-4 lead, but after a Warrior comeback, they found themselves at 7-6 and in danger of dropping the set. Simultaneously, Richard Zheng was in a back and forth battle at number two singles, down 5-6. The doubles team of Derek Quach and Jacky Tang, who also were up and down, stood at 5-5.
Those three matches seemed to end simultaneously. Chen and Lee won 8-6, while Zheng and Quach/Tang both fell 5-8. As the players and fans quickly learned of the 3-3 tie, you could see the anticipation on every face waiting for the final tabulation. The Rams prevailed by the one game margin.
The Rams opened the day with a 5-1 victory over Temecula. Singles players Xu, Zheng, and J. Chen all won their sets 8-0. With a few starters missing to take the SAT, the doubles players all had to form new combinations. Pairings of S. Chen and Jia along with J. Lee and R. Lee both beat their counterparts, 8-5 and 8-3 respectively.
S. Chen and Jia were one of the new partnerships, but did not drop a set the entire day. “My doubles partner, Justin Jia, played exceptionally today,” said co-captain S. Chen. “His serves are consistent and strong which lets me intercept balls at the net. Overall, we made a pretty powerful duo.”
In the second round, the Rams faced Oak Hills. With the same lineup, the Rams earned a 6-0 sweep. Quach and Tang avenged their first round loss for an 8-2 win.
With a spot in the championship already clinched, the Rams tried a lineup change in the third round, pairing J. Chen with J. Lee and moving R. Lee to singles. The move didn’t slow them down as they earned another 6-0 sweep over Bolsa Grande.
The tournament championship capped off a very competitive week for the Rams. In the last six days, the Rams played Arcadia, Pasadena Poly, Arroyo, and competed in today’s tournament. “It was a very busy week for us with extremely high level competition,” said Rams Coach Nate Slaymaker. “With the talent level in our league, weeks like this prepare us well for future matches.”
The Rams have two more matches next week before their first league tilt against South Pasadena on March 23. “I think winning the championship will be a big confidence booster for us,” said co-capain J. Lee. “I believe it will give us momentum into our next match and eventually into our important league matches.”