In an effort to swing its counterattack against a stout Templeton boys tennis team that handed Cabrillo its only Los Padres League loss this season, the Conquistadores and head coach David Riley decided to reshuffle the singles and doubles lineup to slow down the Eagles.
The result saw a more competitive showing from CHS, but the Conqs still fell to the LPL power 12-6 at home on a windy Thursday afternoon.
One prominent switch was moving Marco Monroy to the No. 1 slot and moving Cedric Kwon, who has spent the bulk of the 2016-17 season as the Conqs’ top court option, to No. 2. Both had to deal with one of the rising sophomore tennis stars in the nation in THS’s Colby Grey, who entered the CHS court as the 250th ranked player in the nation.
Both Conqs lost their matches to Grey, who swung like a powerful designated hitter in baseball with his serves, plus gave the Conqs fits with his angle pursuits toward the green ball. Grey beat Monroy, Kwon and Jonathan McGrath by a score of 6-0 in all of his singles matches.
Riley, though, was pleased with the Conqs’ effort against an Eagles team that stayed unbeaten in the LPL standings.
“I’m happy with what our guys did,” Riley said, who also spent his Thursday fighting off an illness. “We switched our positions to give us the best possible chance against a great team. They’re a nightmare matchup for us and no matter how we did they were still the better team.
“It was exactly how we thought it would happen. Templeton brought it today. I have no complaints.”
Riley added his respect and praise toward Grey, who he described as a better overall player than Santa Ynez’s top standout Braxton Johnson.
“No disrespect to Braxton, but Colby is on a whole another level compared to anyone in our league,” Riley said. “Braxton is a great tennis player but Colby is freakish. He’s so good, he’s a great kid and he’s got a lot of integrity for the game. We love playing against him.”
Grey not only showed his focus and determination on the green, white and burgundy court, but fought off a strong challenger in Kwon during his second singles match.
“I definitely think when we play against someone like Cedric Kwon, that’s competition right there. He’s a great player. He had six or seven game points on me,” Grey said. “He’s a very tough matchup especially when returning his serves. I think that’s your main goal when you’re out here especially with the wind. When he’s hitting that flat bomb, it’s almost un-returnable.”
During one occasion, Grey was caught doing the splits when returning one of Kwon’s serves and nearly fell forward. Grey, though, readjusted himself and joked “I’m flexible.”
Kwon shared his scouting report of Grey after his match.
“He’s a very strong player. He’s got great ground strokes, a very good kick serve and good angle placement,” Kwon said. “He was a tough match but I played my hardest and played with the mindset of getting that ball over. It was a good match.”
Outside of Grey, Chaz Darrow swung his way to three wins in singles action for THS, winning by scores of 6-0, 6-3 and 6-1.
Kwon won the lone singles contest for CHS against Porter Barr, beating him 6-1. The Conqs had more success with two players on the same court, as they took five of the nine doubles matches.
The team of Chris Siefe and Christian Barrick led the doubles contingent with their three-match sweep by scores of 6-1, 6-2 and 6-2. Josh Ogan and Josh Roehrig won two of their three matches by scores of 6-4 and 6-3.
Both teams will now head to the LPL Prelims next Thursday at the Minami Center and Hancock College. Game times are set for 2 p.m.
The finals will be held next Friday at the Santa Maria Country Club.