Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West boys tennis keeps pressure on

The majority of the lineup has changed, and so did the coach, but the success continues for Clovis West High's boys tennis team.

The Golden Eagles, who lost nine seniors off last year's 27-0 squad, finished another dominating march through the regular season with a 9-0 Tri-River Athletic Conference win over Clovis on Tuesday.

The two-time defending Central Section Division I champions went 10-0 in the TRAC and 15-2 overall – without a loss to section opposition – and are expected to be given the No. 1 seed for the team playoffs when they are announced Monday. The team playoffs begin May 11.

"Right now, we're going in with a lot of confidence," said Fresno Pacific-bound senior Stefan Loop, the Golden Eagles' lone returning starter. "This team is definitely talented enough to win the Valley title. It's a new team and we have different rituals and practices, but we've come together real well."

First-year coach and former Fresno State standout Bryan Juinio, who replaced Cris Peterson, had to rebuild the ladder, but he had a solid starting block in freshman Billy Griffith, who entered high school as the No. 5-ranked 16-and-under player in Northern California. Griffith is 19-0 at No. 1 singles.

"I felt a lot of pressure at the beginning," Griffith said. "I know they have had a lot of success here, and I wanted to make sure it stayed that way."

In addition to Griffith and Loop, Juinio has Adam Beach at No. 3, Patrick Huls at No. 4, Stavro Sophocleous at No. 5 and Matt Stephenson at No. 6. The top four singles players also play doubles, with Eddie Bermanti and Kyle Stamper also in the doubles mix.

"It helps to have a great freshman like Billy and a guy like Stefan coming back," said Juinio, whose team's only loses are to Los Altos of the Central Coast Section and Palm Desert, the No. 1-ranked Division II team in the Southern Section. "They know what we need to do to win, and that's important."

The TRAC individual tournament is Thursday and Friday, with the top four in singles and doubles advancing to the Central Section individual championships, which are set for May 14, 20 and 21 in Visalia.

Griffith is a top candidate for the No. 1 singles seed if he goes that route. Loop was part of last season's individual doubles champion team, along with Vincent Paganetti.