Clovis West High's dominance in boys tennis continued Tuesday, as the top-seeded Golden Eagles captured a third straight Central Section Division I championship with a 6-3 win over No. 2 Liberty-Bakersfield.
It is the school's seventh section title of the school year and fourth this spring.
Led by first-year coach Bryan Juinio and captains Stefan Loop and Adam Beach, Clovis West got key contributions from several players to again claim the crown after losing nine seniors from last season's team.
"This year was difficult," said Loop, one of five seniors ending his career with a smile on his face and a medal around his neck. "There were new guys and it took a little longer to bond ... but we went into the playoffs with confidence. ... This is why I played this year, to win another championship."
While Loop – the Golden Eagles' No. 1 singles and doubles player (he and Beach won the section individual doubles title Saturday) – shines brightest, others played large roles as well.
Sophomore Stavro Sophocleous had a 6-4, 7-6 win over Addison Coronel in No. 5 singles. Sophocleous battled from a 5-2 deficit in the second set to give his team a 3-3 tie heading into doubles.
As he settled into that three-game hole, Sophocleous said he saw the crowd of spectators coming his way. Four other singles matches had been completed and his teammate in the last singles match was trailing.
Knowing he had to win, he rallied to pull out four straight games. He won the match on a first serve. Sophocleous had been holding back because his arm had been hurting, but he let loose and said the serve was the fastest of the match.
"His win was a great weight off our shoulders," Loop said. "3-3 and 2-4 is a totally different match."
Juinio agreed that the win was crucial. He knew his team could take at least two doubles matches and said that win caused Liberty to shuffle its lineup to try to spread its talent.
"That didn't work out for them today," he said.
The Golden Eagles' No. 3 team of Kyle Stamper and Edward Bramanti clinched the title with a 6-0, 7-5 win against Liberty's Eric Kong and Drew Raney.
It's not the first time this season that the players in the No. 3 doubles role have come through in the clutch. In March, Juinio said, Clovis West was tied with Buchanan High 4-4 with the No. 3 doubles team still playing. Bramanti and Patrick Huls were the pairing then and they pulled through.
"That set us up for the rest of the season," Juinio said.
It is a season that ends with the Eagles 18-2 and the younger players hoping to again fill the sneakers of the departing seniors.
Said Sophocleous: "We all have to step up and try to pull ahead again."
In the D-IV final, No. 1 Bakersfield Christian won five of six in singles and beat No. 3 Immanuel 7-2. In D-V, No. 1 Arvin beat No. 3 Corcoran 5-4.