It was Maranatha’s opening match after a wildly successful campaign in 2017, where the Minutemen lost a close one in the CIF D-4 championship match. After being moved up to D-3 this season (a first in modern MHS tennis history) and losing 3 of their top players from last year’s squad (totaling 7 league MVP awards in their careers), there were a lot of questions entering this season: Can the Minutemen compensate for the loss of their stars? Where will the points come from? Will any returner(s) step up? How will doubles respond to the loss of last season’s #1 and #2 singles players (doubles went 0-9 in the CIF championship match)? Will any freshman make an impact?
While those questions weren’t answered definitively, today’s match against the mighty Panthers of Pasadena Poly (D-2) showed that the MInutemen have the potential to have a solid season, as five of the sets they lost today went 4-6 and two, 6-7, with the Minutemen holding leads late in all 7 sets..
The first round of play saw #1 singles, Daniel Guan, and #2 doubles, Billy Tan and freshman, Kenny Cho, holding 4-3 leads, while #1 doubles, Matthew Leiva and Michael Mathews held leads of 5-4 and 6-5. Victories on those courts would have put MHS at a 3-3 tie. None of them were able to close out their matches, leaving the Minutemen at an 0-6 deficit.
The second round saw strong victories by Guan (6-3) and #3 doubles, Tony Gao and Jake Scott (7-5). Tan/Cho burst out to a 4-0 lead against the Panthers’ #1 doubles team, but lost five straight games to go down, 4-5. They pulled ahead, 6-5, eventually losing, 6-7(3). Leiva/Mathews held a 4-3 lead, only to lose, 4-6, That decided the overall match, putting MHS at a 2-10 deficit.
In the third round, Poly subbed in their alternates for two of the doubles sets, which Leiva/Mathews and Gao/Scott won, 6-0. Guan and Tan/Cho both lost leads of 4-3 to lose, 4-6.
Though the overall match score ended up lop-sided, it very easily could have been much closer. The rest of the season will reveal if the Minutemen have what it takes to close the gap, come together as a team, and reach their potential.. Stay tuned.
Next up for Maranatha is D-5, Azusa, on March 6 in Azusa.