The Laguna Beach High School boys tennis team excited the crow with a nail-biting win this past Friday, May 18, over Redlands East Valley for the CIF championship, the first in 36 years.
Boys singles and doubles won in the first round. In the second round, singles players Mason Lebby and Andrew Johnson won and double players Blake Hawkins/Matt Berk and Francis Pillsbury/Kyle Herkins won theirs to bring Laguna ahead 7-5 going into round three.
In the final round, Mason Lebby won on center court, but Laguna lost their other two singles matches leaving the decision for the championship up to the doubles.
Hawkins and Berk won their match 6-3 leaving Laguna’s tournament score at 9-8. Pillsbury and Herkins were last on the court.
If Laguna Beach lost, the score would be 9-9 tie, but as Redlands had a higher overall game count, they would have won the championship.
Herkins and Pillsbury had no idea the championship was up to them. When their final game went into a tie-break, the courts went silent. Laguna was down and held match point. Then, Herkins served for the win.
The team rushed the doubles pair and the crowd erupted.
A dedication ceremony followed with t-shirts, patches, and the CIF championship plaque awarded to Laguna Beach for the first time since 1982.
“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