The Santa Ynez Pirates faced a tough, early season test Monday afternoon when they hosted the San Luis Obispo Tigers in a non-league boys tennis match.
The Tigers rolled through the first round, 6-0, and kept on going until they wrapped up a 16-2 victory.
“San Luis Obispo is a really good team,” said Santa Ynez coach Steve Gunning. “They had a deep run in the (CIF Southern Section) Division 2 playoffs last year.”
“Everybody played well today, it was a team effort,” said San Luis Obispo coach Ken Peet. “In tennis, every player counts, every point counts. It was a good team win today.”
Both teams had good runs through the 2018 playoffs.
After winning the final PAC 8 League championship, SLO made it to the Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals before bowing out against Laguna Beach.
Santa Ynez had an even deeper run, going all the way to the Division 4 semifinals before falling to eventual champion Laguna Beach.
Santa Ynez actually tied Laguna Beach 9-9 in sets. Laguna Beach advanced to the finals on the basis of games won.
“We had a lot of fun last year in the Division 4 playoffs. We were one game away from making it to the Division 4 finals – not one set, one game,” said Gunning. “We’d like to get there again. We’ve been moved up to Division 3 this year and we’ll need to win at least 50-percent of our matches to make the playoffs. It will be hard to get there because the Channel League is so tough.”
When this school year began, all the Santa Ynez programs faced the new Channel League challenge.
Santa Ynez, Lompoc and Cabrillo High Schools stayed in the Southern Section and joined the Channel League.
The Tigers, along with the other SLO County and Santa Maria schools, moved to the Central Section. The Tigers are now members of the new Mountain League.
On Monday, Santa Ynez’s No. 1 double team, Ryan Rennick and Eric Mailes, picked up one of the Pirates points with a 6-1 set win over the SLO No. 3 team of Addie Hubbley and Carson Krueckel.
Santa Ynez’s No. 3 singles player, Andreas Jackson, picked up the Pirates’ other point with a 6-3 set over SLO’s Greg Thoms.
“Ryan is an exceptional player. Ryan is a team captain and he and Eric won a set today which is a huge accomplishment against this San Luis Obispo team,” said Gunning. “And I think our top three singles players are all solid, capable players.”
Darren Hinkins is the Pirates No. 1 singles player with Peyton Filippin at No. 2 and Jackson at No. 3.
Following Rennick and Mailes in doubles are Josh Kazali and Doug Thornburn at No. 2 and a pair of freshmen, Micah Thompson and Noah Thomas, at No. 3.
“The kids are all great players,” said Gunning. “They’re going to go out and compete well in all our matches.”
“Santa Ynez has a good group of players,” said Peet. “They play hard, they play well – it was a good test for us.”
Santa Ynez is 1-1 on the season, defeating Pioneer Valley in their season-opener before falling to San Luis Obispo on Monday.
“We had a match against Righetti that was rained out,” said Gunning. “And we were supposed to play St. Joseph but it looks like they’re not fielding a team this year so that match was canceled.”
While the score against the Tigers was lopsided, Gunning stressed the positives to his players after the match.
“I saw a lot of competitive points against San Luis. Remember, this is a team that won the PAC 8 last year and almost won it the year before,” said Gunning. “We approached today’s match as a learning opportunity to see how we stack up against the best. It won’t get any easier when we play against the Channel League teams. Dos Pueblos is very good, San Marcos is going to be exceptional, Santa Barbara is really good and Lompoc and Cabrillo are always tough.”
Santa Ynez was back on its home court Tuesday for a match against the Dos Pueblos Chargers.
“It seems like it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire,” said Gunning. “It’s our Channel League opener. The boys will be ready.”
The results of Tuesday’s match were not available at press time.