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’Jackets clinch title with win over Alameda

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Friday April 19, 2002

The Berkeley High boys’ tennis team won their second straight ACCAL title Thursday with a 5-2 win over second-place Alameda, an identical result to the teams’ first meeting a month ago. 

Berkeley (10-1, 8-0 ACCAL) won all three doubles matches in straight sets, and No. 3 single Nate Simmons clinched the ’Jackets’ victory and championship with a grueling three-setter over Patrick Wong, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. Simmons used a variety of slice and topspin groundstrokes to run his oppenent all over the court, saving a reserve for the end and winning the final five games of the match.  

“I just outlasted (Wong),” Simmons said. “It looked like he gave up at the end. I just wanted to keep the ball alive and on the court and let him make mistakes.” 

Simmons shook off losing the first set with little difficulty. 

“I know that a lot of players will let up a little after winning the first set,” he said. “I focused on winning the first couple games of the second set, and when I won those I knew I was in good shape.” 

No. 4 single Peter Logan put the icing on the cake with Berkeley’s final win of the day over Chris Chung. 

The Hornets (6-2 ACCAL) got their wins in the top singles matches, although not as convincingly as in the first match. On March 26, Berkeley’s Nicky Baum and Jonah Schrogin combined to win just three games; on Thursday, they took nine.  

Baum was again matched up against Alameda ace Daniel Elefant, one of Northern California’s top players. Elefant is a classic baseliner with a booming serve, and Baum wasn’t able to break him and get a streak going, with their match the first to end. 

Schrogin, on the other hand, hung around for quite a while, although he couldn’t get enough momentum to win a set from No. 2 Tommy Tu. Despite Schrogin’s winning just five games, long rallies stretched the match out to nearly two hours. Tu has handed Schrogin his only two losses of the season, but the Berkeley senior knew his teammates would pick him up, just as they did a month ago. 

“Our team is solid all the way through, from No. 1 singles to No. 3 doubles,” Schrogin said. “I don’t feel like I have to win for our team to get a win.” 

The most crowd-pleasing match of the day was at No. 1 doubles. Alameda’s Alex Griffin injected some life into the day with his unusually vocal play, exhorting his teammates while playing his own match. Although partner Gary Chow didn’t join in, the Berkeley team of Quincy Moore and Ben Chambers had a little extra incentive to beat Griffin with the biggest crowd of the year watching. 

“I’d say (Griffin’s) talking raised the intensity level of the match,” Chambers said. 

Moore and Chambers won the first set easily at 6-3, but the Hornet team came back to force a tie-break in the second set. Things stayed knotted until 8-8, when Moore smacked a cross-court winner and Griffin put the next point into the net, giving the ’Jackets their third win of the day. 

Berkeley’s other doubles teams, Takafumi Katsuura and Nick Larsson and Shahaub Roudbari and Harris Epstein, made short work of their opponents. Katsuura and Larsson won 6-3, 6-1, while Roudbari and Epstein won 6-3, 6-4. 

As ACCAL champion, the ’Jackets won an automatic berth in the North Coast Section team playoffs. The NCS seeding committee hasn’t been kind to Berkeley in the past, handing them first-round matches against powerful Campolindo the past two seasons. Berkeley head coach Dan Seguin hopes wins over Head Royce and Piedmont will convince the committee that Berkeley isn’t a weak champion from a weak league. 

“We’re playing well right now, and everyone’s doing their job,” Seguin said. “If we keep it up, we could go a couple rounds into the NCS.” 

Seguin has scheduled a last-minute match against De La Salle for next Friday, and a quality win against the Spartans could help the ’Jackets’ playoff seed.