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Cavaliers make history with CVC's first boys tennis Valley title

1:00 AM, Jun. 13, 2012 EDT

Central Valley Christian No. 2 singles player Josh Witschi returns a shot during the team's Central Section Division V championship match against Selma at In-Shape in Visalia on Thursday. Rhea Quitasol

As the Central Valley Christian athletic director Ryan Tos has seen his share of Central Section division championships. Name a sport and it's likely CVC has won a Valley title under Tos's watch.

But, the one sport that Tos helped build at CVC, boys tennis, hasn't seen the success of boys basketball or volleyball or girls soccer.

It's a relatively fledgling program -- only five years old -- but on Thursday, the Cavaliers boys tennis team climbed that mountain beating Central Sequoia League rival 5-4 to claim the Central Section Division V championship.

"Not to make this about me, but, I think I can take a little more ownership in this one because I did have a hand in getting this program started five years ago," he said.

He concedes though, there weren't goals of winning league titles or Valley titles.

"I think it was more about wanting to compete at the best level that you can," he said. "And, when you get to this point, you want to build on it."

Last year the Cavaliers lost to Corcoran in the D-V semifinals as the No. 2 seed. Coincidentally, CVC lost 5-4.

The team earned the No. 1 seed in Division V this year after winning the Central Sequoia League. To win league, the team had to get past Selma, twice.

Thursday was the third time the two faced off.

After winning four of six singles matches CVC needed to just win once in doubles.

Normally this season Tos has gone with Josh Witschi and A.J. Rollema as his No. 1 doubles team.

On Thursday, Tos took a strategic risk by pairing Witschi, the team's No. 2 singles player with No. 1 singles player Andrew Gong.

Before that point Witschi and Gong hadn't played a doubles match together.

But, Tos concedes that with a championship on the line he went to his two best players to close out the match.

During the CSL championships earlier this month, Witschi and Rollema lost to Selma's Patrick Smith and Edsel Antunez in the finals.

CVC avoided a repeat of the CSL doubles finals as Gong and Witsch cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory to clinch the Division V crown.

"Me and Andrew haven't played together all year, but Andrew's a heckuva player and he's really fun to play with," Witschi said. "And, we just had confidence in ourselves and played well."

Knowing the situation their coach put them in, it would have been natural for the two to feel some pressure.

"We knew we could close it out," Witschi said.

Said Gong: "I think there was [some pressure]. The team kind of was banking on us to win it."

While the team of Gong and Witschi closed out the match, it might have been the play of Rollema in singles that was the deciding factor.

As the No. 3 singles player -- with Gong having beat Smith 6-0, 6-0 in the No. 1 singles match and Witschi beating Antunez 6-0, 7-5 in the No. 2 spot -- Rollema needed a marathon of a tie-breaker to knock off Conner King 6-3, 6-7 (10-7) to help CVC in singles.

Hayes Hanlon, playing No. 6 singles, knocked off Jacob Henke 6-0, 6-1 to put the Cavaliers a match away from a championship.

Heading into this season, coming off last year's semifinal and having their top two players coming back, Tos concedes there was no specific competitive goal for this year.

"What we wanted to do was just play up to our ability," Tos said.

But, as the season wore on, Tos knew his team could be special.

"I think it became apparent once we got our basketball players out," Tos said of the basketball players who missed significant time as the Cavaliers made a run in the Southern California Regionals. "We just had that feeling it would be a two-team race for league and for Valley with us and Selma."

Having played on the boys basketball team that won a Valley title in the winter, Witschi concedes some people around school somewhat half-heartedly joked about the tennis team winning a Valley title. Considering there was no history of winning, it may have seemed like a long shot.

But, as Tos was handing out medals to his players, and was subsequently given a water cooler bath by players, led by Witschi, it was apparent the jokes of the CVC boys tennis team winning a Valley title could be laid to rest.

"For it to actually happen, it's a surprise," said Witschi, who was a starter on the basketball team. "It definitely feels good to be a Valley champion, again."




Boys Basketball

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