_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES _______________________


CIF-SS Div 3 BOYS TENNIS FINALS – Upset-minded Whitney unable to pull off one more surprise, falls to Flintridge Prep

Even though they lost to Flintridge Prep 15-3 in last Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 boys tennis finals, Whitney High was proud to hoist the hardware that comes with advancing to the championship match. This is the fourth time the Whitney boys tennis program has advanced to the finals, winning the Division V title in 2003 while falling in 2005 and 2012 before this season.



By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

CLAREMONT-No one predicted the Whitney High boys tennis team to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 finals. The odds were stacked against the unseeded Wildcats, the third place team from the 605 League, to knock off second-ranked Flintridge Prep, the lone freelance team in the division.

Both programs have been to The Claremont Club before with Flintridge Prep claiming the Division 4 title just three years ago while Whitney’s last trip here was in 2012 when it was ranked second and fell to top-seeded Valencia High 11-7 in Division 3. But last Friday, the dream run ended for the Wildcats who went winless through the first two rounds and lost 15-3. Whitney ends the season at 15-7.

“It’s been an awesome year; the way these guys fought together,” said first-year head coach David Moorman. “All season long, we’ve been trying to figure out what would be our best lineup. These guys have bene able to just work it through to the point where once we got to the playoff round, they were able to do their very best.”

Moorman, who has been in the Whitney program for eight seasons, saw his team open the playoffs with an 11-7 win against Del Rio League champion La Serna High 11-7, then double up fourth-ranked St. Margaret’s High 12-6 in the second round. That would be followed by wins over Pacific View League champion Ventura High (10-8) and the No. 1 team in the division, Royal High, 9-9 (75-65 in games). Whitney had previously captured the 2003 Division V title when it was the top-ranked team in the division and knocked off Fairmont Prep 11-7. Two years later, the Wildcats, ranked third in Division 4, fell to Viewpoint High 13-5 in the Division V finals.

“All season long we believed we could do that,” said Moorman of getting to the finals. “It’s just that at times, it didn’t happen. When we were playing in our league, we just felt like no matter what, we’re going to learn from this experience, and that was our goal. What it did was fine tuning us, fine tuning us to the point where these guys were willing to take that flight and they did it on the court.”

Whitney did not win a set in singles play and were blanked in five of those nine sets. The best chance of getting a win there came from freshman Arun Nambiar, who lost to No. 1 Matthew Wang 6-4. Flintridge Prep’s No. 3 player, Will Lanstra, won a pair of 6-0 sets before being replaced in the third round where Luca Yeghnazar defeated senior Abhiram Putta 6-0.

Junior Gideon Choi, the No. 2 player, lost to Wang 6-2 and senior Neil Tendolkar, who relaced freshman Evan Wang in the third round, fell to Dilan Robbins 6-2. Also in the third round, senior Atreya Petluri, a replacement for Nambiar, lost to Alec Guthrie 6-2.

“You could just see the power the other team had,” said Moorman. “That was something you could see throughout. If you look at their tournament [run]; where they’ve been through…you could see their scores and kind of have an idea they’re going to come in strong. They kind of proved it in that first round. Sometimes you just have to realize that their players are stronger than yours at times.”

Flintridge Prep had an easier road to the finals, crushing Mark Keppel High 17-1, Foothill Tech 14-4, Oxford Academy 14-4 and Orange Lutheran High 14-4. Mark Keppel and Oxford Academy were league champions.

Whitney was much stronger in doubles, winning all three sets in the final round and winning at least one game in every set. The No. 1 duo of senior Nikhil Lingineni and freshman Mukilan Kamalavannan fell to Miles Cabrera and Ray Cabrera 6-3 and Leon Liao and Neel Sadda 6-4, but defeated No. 2 Nico Stanton and Loran Baxter Mercado 6-0. Junior Krishan Parikh and sophomore Darshan Powers, the No. 2 tandem, lost 6-2 and 6-3 before defeating Liao/Sadda 6-3 and the No. 3 pair of junior Kyle Phong and freshman David Vo lost a pair of 6-1 sets before knocking off Marcus Lin and Kazuma Hakushi 6-1.

Since joining the 605 League, the Wildcats have remained in the upper half of the league with powerhouse Cerritos High, which captured the Division 4 championship, and Oxford Academy. In 2019, the ‘Cats went 8-2 with the setbacks coming to Cerritos 10-8 and 11-7. Last season, Whitney tied Oxford Academy twice and split with Cerritos, defeating the Dons 11-7 while playing to a 9-9 tie in the other match.

“I think it’s going to build to the point where it’s going to continue with that enthusiasm,” said Moorman. “The next group, whoever comes in, are going to want to come in. My goal for them, like I’ve told them all season, is their key. Now it proves how important where their offseason play is where it gets us through this.”