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Golden Eagles fall, but lock up title

Prep Tennis
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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GRANITE BAY — When Del Oro High coach Jill Tooker walked away from the coaches’ meeting following a tight match Tuesday with rival Granite Bay, she quietly held a blue plastic bag. When she approached her nervous team she simply said, “Max (Hennessy), I think you deserve to hold this,” as she unrolled the Sierra Foothill League title banner, the school’s first in four years. The Eagles technically lost the match 5-4, their only loss on the season, but won the SFL title with more sets won. Hennessy was a big reason for that after his marathon match against Wade Graves that went three sets and had to have line judges the bulk of the time. Hennessy won 2-1 with a 7-4 tiebreaker. “I’m a little disappointed but I’m happy we won by sets and it was all because of the grittiness of the guys,” Tooker said. “They fought for every point, they won sets that they weren’t supposed to and that’s the reason why we won the tiebreaker.” The last time the Eagles won the title was in 2009 when the eight graduating seniors were freshmen. Del Oro went on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title that season. The last match of the day was Del Oro’s Brett Bacharach, who won the SFL individual title a day earlier, against Zach Low. The outcome was nearly decided before the two even began as Bacharach ran through the SFL undefeated. After the senior dispatched Low in straight sets — 6-1, 6-2 — teammate Paul Villa was the first inside the court to lift Bacharach in celebration. Villa himself was involved in a pivotal match but the senior used his experience to come away with a hard-fought straight-set win against Chinar Sheth. He worked the net regularly which caused Sheth to send multiple shots long or lofted up high enough for Villa to slam home for the point. “I try to get in the minds of the people that I play because I know if I can get inside then they kind of just start to crumble from within,” Villa said. “Once I won the first set, I knew I was getting to him and then I just finished it off going to the net because I knew he was weak when I came to the net.” Hennessy lost to Graves earlier in the season and trailed 5-4 in the tiebreaker but kept his composure despite a boisterous performance by his opponent. “I just stayed positive and didn’t think about losing,” Hennessy said. Del Oro senior Danny Silva also picked up a win against Brandon Kozlowski in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. The Eagles biggest flaw was in doubles, which was the strength in the two teams’ earlier matchup. The Grizzlies swept doubles competition and lost just one set behind aggressive play. With the section tournament starting Monday — the Eagles host their match May 1 after a first-round bye – that gives Del Oro some time to straighten out the kinks beforehand. It wraps the regular season up today against Rocklin, but will win the SFL title no matter the outcome. “We definitely need to fix doubles,” Tooker said. “We went in there a little shell shocked and didn’t play our game. I think we were a little too confident after we beat them so bad the first round. We just thought we were going to get it and they came out and Granite Bay played great doubles.” Placer 9, Foothill 0 — The Hillmen rolled on senior day, clinching their sixth straight undefeated season in the Pioneer Valley League. In boys singles, Steven Fraguglia and Blair Meyer won in straight sets. Tine Humble and Claire McInerny were winners in girls singles. At No. 1 boys doubles, Andrew Carducci and Andrew Dahlin won 6-1, 6-1. Derek Ikeda and Logan Thompson won their No. 2 boys doubles match 6-2, 6-2. In girls doubles, Lindsey Holden and Kirstin Schauble posted a 6-2, 6-1 win. Bronte Haskins and Natalie Garcia took a 6-2, 6-4 decision at No. 2 girls doubles. Kyle Fontes and Amy Classon were 6-0, 6-2 winners in mixed doubles.