Sunset's boys use their depth and skill to shut down Beaverton 8-0
by: MILES VANCE, HIT MAN — In action during Tuesday’s Metro League match at Beaverton High School was Sunset senior Chris Seibel in the No. 1 singles match.

BEAVERTON - Sunset's boys tennis team played mailman on Tuesday afternoon.

The Apollos allowed neither wind, nor sun nor rain to keep them from their appointed rounds, rounds in this case which meant delivering an 8-0 win over the Beavers at Beaverton High School that lifted Sunset's Metro League record to 4-1.

'We've got a really good solid team,' said Sunset coach Lad Salness. 'We have nine seniors and I've had those kids for three years now. I was just proud of our kids today.'

As well he should have been. The Apollos swept all four of the days singles and doubles matches, and of those, only the first two singles matches went to three sets.

'Honestly, I am a little disappointed it was a shutout,' said Beaverton coach Matt Hottmann. 'We'd been playing well this year and I thought we had the opportunity to make this a lot closer than it was. (But) against Sunset, everything has to go your way, and it clearly didn't.'

At the top of the singles ladder, Sunset senior Chris Seibel battled back from a 6-2 first-set loss and a 2-1 second-set deficit to beat Beaverton sophomore Alen Suklje 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

'It's just a lot of experience that helps out, playing lots and lots, being in that situation,' Seibel said. 'It just helps having been there before.'

'I think the problem was that

he got into my head,' Suklje said. 'I've got to be working on my mental strength always. It wasn't there for me today.'

Suklje used his powerful first serve and strong forehand to keep Seibel off balance throughout the first set, then notched a service break in game three of the second set to lead 2-1. But Seibel steadied himself there, broke Suklje in the next game to start a run of five straight wins and carried his momentum into a dominant third set.

'I finally got into my game right after I got broke in the second (set) and then he stopped serving as well, which was real nice,' Seibel said.

'I got my first serves in (in the first set); that was a big deal,' Suklje said. 'But it started to lack in the second set and then I just fell apart in the third. He turned it around.'

'That's Chris' maturity,' Salness said. 'He's worked on his game physically and gotten better, and mentally, he's gotten really, really tough. He stays within the confines of his own abilities and just bears down and doesn't get frustrated. I was proud of the way he hung in there.'

'He regained his focus and just battled,' Hottmann said of Seibel. 'He wore Alen down on some level and weathered the first set's barrage of winners.'

Similarly, Apollo senior Eric Furuya - normally a member of Sunset's top doubles team who was called up to play second singles on Tuesday - rallied from a 6-4 first-set loss to Beaver freshman David Orth and came back to win the final two sets 6-3, 6-3.

'He came back and made it interesting (in the first set), then won the next two,' Salness said. 'That was an awesome job.'

Sunset junior Mike Furuya took care of Beaver freshman Ben Menashe 6-4, 6-2 at third singles, and Apollo senior Alex Belmonte raced past Beaverton sophomore Jamal Keuter 6-2, 6-0 at fourth singles to complete the singles sweep.

In doubles, Sunset seniors Elliot and Tim Neal knocked off Beaverton seniors Thomas Overlund and Nitin Agrawal 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1. Next up, Sunset senior Naveen Nanja and junior Yusuke Kitamura beat juniors Joe Springhetti and Fletcher Miller of Beaverton 7-5, 6-1.

At third doubles, it was Sunset seniors Evan Liu and Caleb Lu who defeated Beaverton senior Tatsunori Nakashima and junior Dan Nguyen 6-3, 6-2. And at No. 4, Apollo juniors William Wang and Ashish Patra finished off Beaverton senior Ben Mariano and junior Grant Schoen 6-1, 7-5.

'I thought we had opportunities to steal some matches that just didn't emerge,' Hottmann said. 'We were serving for the set at two and four doubles and got broken. But on the bright side, we had to be playing extremely well to even be in that situation.'

In upcoming matches, Sunset hosts Westview at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday), plays in the Jesuit-Metro-State Team Tennis Invitational at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and plays at Jesuit at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Beaverton plays at Aloha at 4:30 p.m. today, then hosts Southridge at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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