Breakers won their fourth tennis title after a 36-year absence with a thrilling 10-8 victory over Redlands East Valley last Friday, May 18, at the Claremont Club in Claremont.
The contest came down to the last set in competition with the doubles team of Francis Pillsbury and Kyle Herkins winning the tie breaker 7-6 (7-5). A loss would have tied the match at nine sets a piece with Laguna losing on overall games. Herkins and Pillsbury already had lost a similar set to the Wildcat’s top doubles squad earlier in the contest.
Breakers were tied 3-3 after the first round and led 7-5 entering the final round. Mason Lebby won his final singles set 6-0 and Blake Hawkins/Matt Berk had completed their perfect day with a 6-3 win leaving the Breakers one victory away from the title, setting up the dramatic ending.
Since winning the 3A (D2) title in 1982, Laguna had made it to the finals five other times without success. They recently were in the Division 4 title games, losing to Redlands 12-6 in 2015 and 13-5 in 2016 before the Terriers were elevated to Division 1. Redlands East Valley finished second to Redlands in the Citrus Belt League this season and concluded their year at 20-5.
Last Wednesday, Laguna traveled 178 miles to ninth-ranked Santa Ynez for the Division 4 semifinals on the Pirate’s courts and advanced on games won 76-75 after winning four of the final six sets to earn the 9-9 tie.
“Words cannot convey how proud I am of these incredible boys,” coach Rick Conkey said. “It still hasn’t completely sunken in, my jaw still hurts from smiling and laughing so much.
“Over the last few months I’ve watch these boys grow and get stronger both technically and mentally as they challenged themselves and each other to new heights,” Conkey said. “I want to especially thank this year’s senior players Blake Hawkins and Nick Besso, who helped raise the team’s spirit and provided the leadership needed to win a championship.”
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