“Can you just tell everyone that we won?” Davis High tennis coach Dale Hersch teased on Wednesday after his boys fell 7-2 to longtime rival Jesuit in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals.
But it’s no misrepresentation to report that the one-sided appearance of the championship result is indeed deceptive. In fact, the Blue Devils had a fighting chance to win their fifth straight SJS title throughout the contest.
Approximately 100 fans watched at the Community Park Tennis Complex, as different sets stretched into tie-breakers. The difference? The Marauders won eight of those nail-biters.
In the end, the injury-depleted Devils were overrun by a deep Jesuit roster. It’s only the second time in the past 11 years that the title matchup between the two squads ended in a divide larger than 5-4.
Another rare occurrence was all three of the DHS doubles teams dropping their respective matches. Actually, seeing more than one duo go down in defeat on the same day was a first for the locals in their section tournament history.
Blue Devil Manraj Gill was moved up to the No. 1 doubles spot, where he paired with Dan Segedin to meet a pair of Marauders who played close to the net and aggressive. The Davis duo was never too far behind in the battle, but eventually lost 7-6, 6-4.
On a neighboring court, the Devils’ No. 2 squad — Scott Lucio and Bob Li — fell 2-6, 7-6, 12-10, in a match so close that a point here or there could have changed the outcome. The same was the case at No. 3, where Chris Chinn and Louis Pak were bested, 7-6, 7-6, in a match that featured two tie-breakers.
“The doubles surprised me,” Hersch said. “For years, our strength has been doubles. We have the depth. If you would have told me that we were going to get swept, I would’ve said, ‘No way.’
“The scores were close, though. It really just came down to a point here and a point there.”
No. 1 singles player Glenn Hull did his best to turn the score in DHS’ favor. The senior’s 6-3, 6-4 victory over his Jesuit adversary, who could not match Hull’s speed, came as the first good news of the day for Hersch.
Because of a back injury, Hull had played less than five times in the past few months. He said that’s made him feel the physical toll of playing such a high-intensity match even more than usual.
“It’s (the injury), and having to play after having a tough match (Tuesday),” Hull added. “My back is sore, blisters on my feet and everything. I’m really tired. I’m looking forward to at least a day of rest.”
That one day will have to be enough as the locals will travel to play at Division II champion Bella Vista on Friday for a berth in the NorCal Tournament.
Back to Wednesday: The Blue Devils’ next four singles players — Andrew Dumit (7-6, 6-3) Isaac Yee (6-4, 6-1) Sean Mishra (6-4, 6-0) and Issac Zhang (6-3, 7-6) — were downed in straight sets by their Jesuit counterparts,
But the last match to finish Wednesday evening ended with Davis picking up its second win. No. 6 Tris Dutta pulled off an impressive comeback for the second consecutive day, posting a 5-7, 7-6, 10-8 triumph.
Despite it ultimately ending in a loss for DHS, the 13 Devils did not hang their heads after the contest. Hersch says all of them have careers to be proud of:
“Four years of traveling, going to Southern California and Louisville this year, and three section titles. Sure, it would have been nice to win. As I told them, they weren’t going to hand it to us.”
And their run isn’t over as the veteran coach believes his guys will win Friday to advance.
“I’m not too concerned,” Hersch said. “I’m confident that we will be represented, along with Jesuit, in the Northern California tournament (in Natomas on May 17).”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett