ATASCADERO — It was Atascadero’s turn to host the end of the year tennis tournament which brought the six other Ocean League schools — Santa Maria, Orcutt Academy, Nipomo, Morro Bay, Mission Prep and Pioneer Valley — to Heilman Park for league prelims and finals. Atascadero’s Nathan Hontz made it to the finals after opening with a first-round bye and the doubles team of Jaedyn Imhoff and Andy Pericic advanced to the semifinals.
Hontz, who is Atascadero’s No. 1 singles player, opened the prelims with a bye coming in as a No. 2 seed and faced off against a familiar foe in teammate Ryan MacLean in the second round. McLean advanced to the second round by defeating Kris Gilbertson of Orcutt Academy. Hontz defeated his teammate 6-0, 6-3 and advanced to the third round where he faced another teammate, this time being Josh Tarica who won both of his early matches.
Tarica opened the prelims with an opening round matchup with Morro Bay’s Benjamin Wilson that he won 8-0 and faced Cris Ramirez of Santa Maria in the second and kept rolling winning 6-0, 6-0. It was all smiles when Hontz and Tarica met because making it into the third round ensures that both players would be coming back on Wednesday for the finals regardless of the result of the match. Hontz rolled into the next round winning 6-0, 6-1 where he faced Joseph Daou who was also issued a first-round bye on day 1. Hontz beat Daou soundly 6-0, 6-1 proving he is one of the top-two singles players in the Ocean league making it to the finals only dropping two games on the way, unfortunately, Hontz faced Luke Llaurado of Mission Prep in the finals who didn’t drop a single game on Tuesday or Wednesday as he took home first defeating Hontz 6-0, 6-0.
Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley did not bring players to play for fifth place meaning that Tarica and Greg Contreras of Nipomo each advanced via default. Tarica finished sixth.
Atascadero on Atascadero friendly fire was all over the tournament on Tuesday as the Greyhounds were one of the only teams to field four doubles teams and four singles players.
“Because of that we end up of having some players play against each other,” Atascadero head coach Lori Bickle said. “But on the other hand, they have had to win some matches to get there so it is working out well.”
The doubles team of Rory Kien and Giovanni Ibrizzi won their first-round match against a team from Pioneer Valley but ran up against fellow Greyhounds in Imhoff and Pericic in the second round where they were defeated in straight sets. Imhoff and Pericic advanced into the third round where they faced the No. 1 overall seed from Orcutt Academy. The Greyhounds pair fell to the eventual doubles champions and set themselves up for a big third-place match with the No. 2 overall seed. Atascadero battled forcing a third set but came up short.
The doubles team of Seth Camp and Luke Olson were the only Hounds that did not face an opposing team in orange and had the smoothest route possible to the area tournament only playing two matches. Camp and Olson earned a first-round bye automatically placing them in the second round where they faced a team from Morro Bay that they defeated 6-2, 6-2. In the third round, the pair lost to the Orcutt Academy duo of Crowley and Childs, who took second overall and defaulted into fifth place with none of the players being on site on Wednesday.
The top six singles players and top six doubles teams advance to the area tournament in a few weeks in San Luis Obispo where they will meet the top six from the Mountain League tournament that also played week.
The North County had a few bright spots at the Mountain League tournament, but traditionally Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo play some of the best tennis is the division and the case was no different this year as the two schools faced off in the finals of both singles and doubles. The Bearcats doubles team of Reese Eddy and Victor Streel entered the tournament seeded No. 4 and finished fourth overall.
On the singles side, the Templeton Eagles had the No. 3 overall seed in senior standout Colby Gray who entered this season undefeated in regular season league play. Gray developed a shoulder injury this season but remained perfect on the season until he ran into Sam Ashbrook, the eventual champion, and had to pull out of the match after forcing a third set due to the injury. Gray sat out matches in an attempt to heal his shoulder for the Mountain League tournament and started with a first-round bye and a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Arroyo Grande’s Ethan Wolfe. Gray then faced SLO’s Bayley Perlmutter and advanced 6-1, 6-3 but that is as far as the Eagles star would go and he withdrew due to injury.
The Bearcats’ Brysan Pesenti entered the prelims seeded sixth overall but dropped their first match after their opening-round bye to Perlmutter of SLO.