’Jackets face rematch with De La Salle in second round on Thursday
The Berkeley High boys’ tennis team won its first North Coast Section game in at least three years on Tuesday, beating Montgomery High (Santa Rosa), 5-2.
Berkeley’s deep roster once again made the difference, as the fifth-seeded ’Jackets (12-2) lost the top two singles matches but rallied to sweep the doubles matches and win the No. 3 and 4 singles. Every match went just two sets, including two doubles matches that ended on tiebreaks.
Nate Simmons used his topspin serve to dominate Mike Marinelli at the No. 3 singles, winning 6-1, 6-2. Also a basketball player for Berkeley High, Simmons came to the net often and used his athleticism to get up for Marinelli’s lobs. When Simmons stayed on the baseline, he ran his opponent all over the court with accurate groundstrokes.
“I wanted to come into the net as much as possible, and I was pretty effective moving him from side to side,” Simmons said.
Berkeley’s other singles victory came in a baseline battle, with Peter Logan coming out on top, 6-3, 6-0, over Montgomery’s Justin Strachan. Logan played patiently, returning nearly every shot Strachan hit and waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. Logan’s win clinched the victory for Berkeley, putting the ’Jackets into the second round for the first time under coach Dan Seguin.
“Our matches usually don’t come down to me having to win,” Logan said. “But after I won the first set, I didn’t really feel any pressure. I felt like I had (Strachan) down.”
The ’Jackets were happy to get a home NCS match for the first time, as postseason trips to powerful Campolindo ended the past two seasons. Montgomery (12-4) came in unseeded as the North Bay League champs, while Berkeley earned the No. 5 seed by going undefeated in ACCAL play.
Seguin said the home match had another effect: the presence of the Berkeley High administrator (required for all NCS matches).
“All the time I’ve been here, this is the first time we’ve gotten anyone from the school at one of our matches,” Seguin said. “And today it was just because someone had to be here.”
Although the Vikings kept the match close with wins from No. 1 single Henry Hasegawa and No. 2 Justin Neel, Berkeley’s dominance of the doubles matches made the matter moot. Berkeley’s top team of Ben Chambers and Quincy Moore made short work of Steve Houghton and Matt Huntsberger, 6-2, 6-4.
The most dramatic matchup came at the No. 2 doubles, where Adam Akullian and Shahaub Roudbari needed a second-set tiebreak to down Montgomery’s Matt Moorehead and Greg Neel. After winning the first set 6-3, the Berkeley team went up 3-0 to start the tiebreak, but Moorehead and Neel came back for a set point at 6-5. But Akullian and Roudbari rallied to win the next three points, giving the ’Jackets a much-needed victory.
“I thought we were going to go to a third set for sure,” Akullian said. “But I think we got more focused as the tiebreak went on, when we really needed it.”
With a Berkeley win already sewn up, the No. 3 doubles match didn’t have much drama. The Berkeley team of Nick Larsson and Tak Katsuura won regardless, 6-4, 76 (7-4).
The ’Jackets’ opponent in the second round will be De La Salle High (Concord), the No. 4 seed. The two teams met two weeks ago, with the Spartans pulling out a 4-3 win with victories in the top two singles and doubles matches. Seguin thinks the match could go either way.
“(De La Salle) is the deepest team we’ve played this year. They’re like us: solid all the way through the ladder,” Seguin said. “But we could’ve easily won two of the matches we lost. I feel like we could have played better, and it was still close.”
The second round match will be played at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at Club Sport Valley Vista in Concord, De La Salle’s home court.