James Wade had been there, done that, coming into the CIF Southern Section Boys’ Tennis Individual Tournament’s round of 16 Friday. By the end of the day, he went where he never had before – the semifinals.
It was already a historic day for Wade when he advanced to the round of eight for the first time in his career Friday at the Seal Beach Tennis Center with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Palos Verdes’ Jake Douglas.
Wade, a senior who’ll play at UC Davis next year, started strong again in the quarterfinals and bounced back from a sloppy second set to defeat Foothill’s Stefan Doehler easily in the third and deciding set, 6-1, 1-6, 6-0, to advance into the final four.
“Everything this year has been a career best for him – season, Ojai and now CIF,” San Marino Coach Melwin Pereira said. “This is the way he should be going out in his high school career.”
The Titans’ top two doubles teams of Robert Carter and Daniel Gealer and Nicholas Splichal and Derek Chen had their seasons end in the quarterfinals Friday.
“Both the doubles teams I thought had a good draw, but they did not come through,” said Pereira, who felt the long, three weeks of playoffs caught up with them Friday. “I feel like we were mentally going in and out of focus.
“It was just a very long season because of the regionals. I could see it today.”
It’s the second year in a row Carter and Gealer have been bounced in the quarterfinals. They dropped a fiercely-contested match to Harvard-Westlake’s Harrison Kalt and Dylan Eisner, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10-8), to also mark the second year in a row the duo fell in a third set in the quarters.
“That one hurt,” Pereira said, “that was a tough one to swallow.”
What made it even more heartbreaking was Carter was serving for match-point in the third set, 6-4.
“That’s what I would want and they still couldn’t close it off,” Pereira said. “You have to give Harvard-Westlake credit because they played their style, played their game and our boys have to learn from this, what happened today and they have to move on.”
Splichal and Chen defeated Whitney’s Ruth Pathireddy and Seth Pathireddy in the round of 16 Friday, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, before falling to Cam Marco and Vatsal Bajpai, 6-2, 6-2, with a trip to the semis on the line.
Carter and Gealer, who came into Friday as the second seed, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Santa Monica’s Alex Smolentsev and Ben Gelfand in the round of 16.
A familiar foe – top-seeded Gage Brymer of the reigning CIF Southern Section Division I and CIF United States Tennis Assn./Southern California Regional champion Irvine University team – awaits Wade in the Saturday’s semifinal, which is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Seal Beach Tennis Center.
“He has not lost a match this season, he hasn’t lost a match in high school,” Pereira said of Brymer. “My wish was that James would be on the bottom half; obviously, I knew Gage was going to be the No. 1 seed.”
In two meetings this season, Wade is 0-2 against Brymer and hasn’t rallied to take more than two games in a set. Most recently, the UCLA-bound Brymer defeated Wade, 6-1, 6-1, in the CIF United States Tennis Assn./Southern California Regional Championships on May 25. Brymer also got the best of Wade, 6-0, 6-2, in the semifinals of this year’s Ojai Tournament on April 27 and in last year’s CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals, 6-2.
“Tomorrow it will just be me and James,” Pereira said. “It will be fun, it will be exciting and James I’m sure is excited. If he has to go down, he definitely wants to go down to the best in Southern California and the best in the country.”