With both teams shorthanded, it's Sunset who holds the upper hand against Aloha 7-1
ALOHA - Sunset entered Thursday's boys tennis match against Aloha with concerns stemming from a school event that forced them to jumble their lineup significantly.
The Apollos left Aloha High School with renewed faith in their depth and a 7-1 victory despite using five junior varsity players in doubles play against a Warriors' squad that was also without several members.
'We were missing close to half our team,' said Sunset No. 2 singles player Chris Seibel, who won 6-2, 6-1. 'We have pretty strong team. We wanted to give the JV some confidence. We told them to go out and have fun and play your game.'
They did and the result was a sweep of the four doubles matches and straight-set wins at No. 2, 3 and 4 singles to improve the Apollos to 3-1 in Metro matches while dropping Aloha to 1-3.
The Warriors picked up their lone victory at No. 1 singles where steady senior Dimitri Anast was a wall in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Sunset freshman Ted Bolton. Anast dropped the first game then took 12 straight, seemingly returning everything sent his way.
'I've kind of given up on the whole volleys attack,' said Anast. 'I'd rather stay on the baseline and grind it. I knew he doesn't miss a lot of balls, so I had to do that to beat him. I had to play my best game today.'
Playing in his second match at No. 1 singles, Bolton continuously challenged Anast, who reached the state quarterfinals in 2006. But Anast didn't flinch, returning shot after shot until a Bolton miscue in numerous long rallies.
'He's fast and gets to a lot of balls,' Anast said of Bolton. 'I had to add a few shots to each rally until he made a mistake.'
'I thought I could've done better, but he's a good opponent,' Bolton said. 'He's a retriever and pretty consistent. It's definitely frustrating. I just have to be more patient and wait for a better opportunity.'
Anast avenged losses to Jesuit's Spencer Moore in last year's state quarterfinals and district finals with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 victory on Tuesday, April 10. That marked the only set he's dropped this season, having improved his season record to 9-0 after Thursday's win.
'There's like six or seven players that are so even,' said Anast of the state singles competition. 'I didn't show today, but my serve has gotten a lot better. Last year people would take advantage of that.'
Prior to Anast's win, Sunset dominated singles play. Junior Chris Seibel dropped two early games at No. 2 singles before steadying himself to win the first set against Aloha senior Lauro Lim. After dropping the first game of the second set, Seibel took six straight for a 6-2, 6-1 victory that was more contested then the score indicated.
'He was tough. He really gave me a run for my money,' said Seibel, who also played basketball prior to the season before electing to concentrate solely on tennis. 'My second serve's been strong. I need to work harder on my first serve and not lose as many service games.'
Sophomores Rene Kaza and Erik Furuya, who normally play together at No. 1 doubles for the Apollos, split to win in singles play. Kaza beat Aloha sophomore Eric Liao 6-1, 7-5 at third singles, while Furuya blanked senior Jordan Fleig 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4.
Sunset juniors Tim Neal and Elliot Neal also broke apart from their spot at No. 2 doubles to lead the Apollos to a pair of victories. Tim Neal joined forces with freshman Jeff Yeom at No. 1 for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Aloha's Joseph Joo and Phillip Do.
Elliot Neal and junior Aakash Raj also won in three sets, rallying to beat Jacob Johnson and Jonathan Vo at second doubles 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4. After dropping the first set, Neal and Raj fell behind 5-4 in the second before taking the next two points. Aloha's duo won the next game to force the tiebreaker.
There each team held serve through 5-4 when Sunset broke Aloha's and Neal followed by serving four straight points in the 7-4 tiebreaker win. Neal and Raj, normally a junior varsity player, built off that momentum to stay ahead of Johnson and Vo throughout the decisive third set to earn the hard-fought win in a match that took nearly two hours.
Sunset sophomore Ray Koh and freshman Andrew Nagel had it easier at No. 3 doubles, winning 6-0, 6-0 while teammates Dillon Rotter, a sophomore, and freshman Andrew Tai won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at fourth doubles.