Prep tennis: Clovis North boys celebrate first Central Section D-I title
Clovis West High brought tradition and a raucous crowd.
Clovis North countered with smooth and steady tennis.
The result was a straight-sets win from No. 1 singles player Daly Meinert followed by victories, in order, from Derek Yao, Alex Tacescu, Billy Schulz, Stephen Pimentel with the clinching point and Miles Hale with the exclamation point as the top-seeded Broncos captured their first Central Section Division I boys tennis title with a 6-0 rout of the No. 2 Golden Eagles on Wednesday at Copper River Country Club. The schools decided against playing doubles.
Clovis West (21-5) had won six of the past seven D-I titles and 18 overall. Clovis North’s previous title came in D-II in 2010.
“Considering the circumstances, with a full crew of Clovis West kids, they stuck in mentally and proved why they are the best team in the Valley this year,” Clovis North coach Brad Fernandez said. “They showed a lot of character and heart. We knew (Clovis West’s fans) were going to be vocal. We just had to stay focused and stick to our game-plan, which we did.”
The decisive point came as anticlimactically as it was semi-unexpected, even though the Broncos (19-2) were a decisive favorite having beaten the Golden Eagles twice – 7-2 each time – during Tri-River Athletic Conference play.
They are such a dynasty in tennis in the Valley. It was a tough battle. We were fortunate to play well against them all three times this year.
Clovis North No. 1 player Daly Meinert after the Broncos beat conference rival Clovis West for the section D-I boys tennis title
At No. 3 singles, Clovis North’s Pimentel, who had lost twice against Clovis West’s Taka Shin by identical 6-4, 6-4 scores in the TRAC, won the first set 7-6 (6) and eventually the second 6-2. But the Broncos had to delay their celebration until after Hale finished a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Addison Weil at No. 2 on the neighboring court.
“I kept going back and forth. I had match point after match point, then he was about to break me,” Pimentel said. “I was just staying in there, holding it, and turning back to my teammates, just having them cheer me on was all I needed to finish him off. It was great. When I knew I had it all wrapped up, I don’t know what went through my mind. It went completely blank. All I could think was I did it, I actually pulled through. This victory over him was amazing.”
Meinert, the two-time defending section individual singles champion, got Clovis North rolling with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Jacob Vander Beek. Meinert, a junior who has one loss to section opposition in three seasons, has played high school tennis rather than focus exclusively on the USTA club circuit for the joy he experienced Wednesday.
“It’s a great feeling being out here and being about to take down your rival,” Meinert said. “They are such a dynasty in tennis in the Valley. It was a tough battle. We were fortunate to play well against them all three times this year. It’s always very optimistic going into these matches, you never know how they can play. Not just myself, but everyone on the team is glad we could come out on top and play so well today.
I couldn’t be happier and more proud of our team right now. We performed really well, and I can’t wait to come out next year.
Clovis North’s Miles Hale, whose 6-4, 7-5 win capped the Broncos’ string of singles victories en route to the section title
“I always wanted to experience this and win it with 13 other guys. The team aspect is why I play.”
After Meinert, Clovis North took control with wins from Yao over Trenton Clutter 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5, Tacescu over Robbie Ellis 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 and Schulz over Andy Ferdinansen 6-4, 6-0 at No. 4.
And when Hale pulled out a 6-4, 7-5 win over Weil, the celebration was on.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication,” Hale said. “We all tried our best. We all showed up to practice and gave 100 percent effort. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of our team right now. We performed really well, and I can’t wait to come out next year.”
Clovis North and Clovis West each advance to the 16-team CIF Southern California Regionals, which begin May 24. No Central Section school – boys or girls – has won a SoCal Regional match.
Meinert is the top seed in singles and Vander Beek and Shin the top doubles seed for the section individual championships, which are Friday and Saturday in Wasco.
Central Section Championships
Clovis North 6, Clovis West 0
Singles: No. 1, Daly Meinert, CN, d. Jacob Vander Beek 6-2, 6-2; No. 2, Miles Hale, CN, d. Addison Weil 6-4, 7-5; No. 3, Stephen Pimentel, CN, d. Taka Shin 7-6 (6), 6-2; No. 4, Alex Tacescu, CN, d. Robbie Ellis 6-4, 6-2; No. 5, Derek Yao, CN, d. Trenton Clutter, 6-2, 6-2; No. 6, Billy Schulz, CN, d. Andy Ferdinansen 6-4, 6-0.
Doubles: Not played
Records: Clovis West 21-5; Clovis North 19-2.