Boys Tennis: La Jolla Country Day seeks to ‘grind it out’ in pursuit of CIF title
By Ed Piper
The La Jolla Country Day School Torreys tennis team took a walloping on their home court from Division II power La Costa Canyon High Mavericks, 12-6, March 4, but the Torreys look on track to be in their own Division III CIF Final again this spring if all indications hold out.
Other than four seniors graduated last year, it’s the same team that won the division title in 2013, averred sixth-year head coach Joslynn Burkett, a CIF singles champ and Player of the Year herself in her playing days as a Torrey.
Country Day (1-1 at this early juncture in the season) seems plenty serious in their pursuit of excellence, but they apparently enjoy the ride as well.
Said Ethan Krant, who plays doubles, one of only two seniors on this year’s squad, “I think I’m the fun captain.”
As evidence, he added, “I organize captain’s practices on Sundays. Not many people go, but with people who do, it’s really (relaxed).”
Krant sat out the match against LCC (1-0), as he was recovering from illness. But Max Mereles went 4-6, 5-7, 6-1 singles, beating the Mavericks’ Jacob Andrew.
In fact, all three Torrey singles players solved Andrew for their sole wins of the day: Randall Kras, 6-3; Andrew Schiffman, 6-0; and Mereles.
David Shaw, the other senior, and Brian Mak defeated LCC’s Connor Hines and James Hammon, 6-3, but fell in their other matches. “In practice, it’s all about consistency,” said Shaw, who has attended LJCD all four years of high school, about Coach Burkett’s emphases. “Like I said, our team’s biggest weakness is we tend to get sloppy on the easy shots. We practice consistency all day, just making all the shots we can, never missing.”
Burkett keeps it pretty simple for her troops: “Singles; it’s about grinding. Usually, just trying to pull out as many points as you can. Points during games; games turn into sets. Doubles; I like them super aggressive at the net, volleys, short points, as simple as that.”
The coach said the boys are going to hit the ball five times at max, so that’s why she wants them to attack at the net early.
Shaw talked about his growth individually: “When I was an underclassman, if I lost three points in a row, I was pretty much done. I wouldn’t be able to pull it together. Junior year, I got myself in the mindset of being hungry for every single point, no matter what the score was: 5-0, 40-love. Every point.”
Krant following a similar path of having to control all that fire: “Ninth grade, I was number-one JV singles. I was really young and I was real fiery and I would get really angry, punch my racquet, broke a couple of springs. Almost broke my hand. With experience you calm down.”
Team members’ favored snack? “Tangerines,” Krant said. How do they build one another up? “Before every match, we always get a break. We pump each other up. We tell each other, even if we’re having a bad day, just keep shots in, play your game, make them make mistakes.” u
RESULTS — Singles: Kras 0-6, 0-6, 6-3. Schiffman 1-6, 2-6, 6-0. Mereles 4-6, 5-7, 6-1. Doubles: Fricks-Tran 3-6, 6-3, 2-6. Foster-Ferruolo 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. Shaw-Mak 1-6, 1-6, 6-3.
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