Titans advance four to finals

TEMPLE CITY — All season long, the talk in the Rio Hondo League regarding boys’ tennis started with San Marino High, followed by runner-up Temple City, and then everyone else.

While three other teams along with the Rams and Titans took part in Wednesday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League preliminaries at Live Oak Park, the chatter afterward, again, started with San Marino and then included Temple City and the rest of the league.

That’s because the rivals qualified all but one competitor to Thursday’s league finals back at Live Oak Park, starting at noon.

“This is a strong league and you want to qualify as many players as you can,” Titans Coach Melwin Pereira said. “I’m happy with the results. We got our No. 1 and No. 3 singles and doubles players playing in the semifinals, so that’s good.”

The odds certainly favored Titans singles ace James Wade and the top doubles squad of Robert Carter and Daniel Gealer, as each were given a first-round bye.

Wade had little difficulty in qualifying to Thursday’s quarterfinals by defeating South Pasadena’s Jordan Cheng, 8-0.

“I just played my normal tennis and that was good enough to win 8-0,” Wade said. “I’m pretty happy with the win and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Wade will face the only non-Titan or Ram left in the league tournament in La Cañada sophomore Ryan Lee, who advanced to the semifinals by way of an 8-3 win over Temple City’s Boris Law in the quarterfinals and a 9-7 triumph versus South Pasadena’s Eren Cameron in the first round.

Even though Carter and Gealer also advanced to semifinals, they found more resistance in an 8-3 win over La Cañada’s doubles tandem of juniors Leeho Lim and Harrison Zuk.

Carter and Gealer won the first four games before they traded points with Lim and Zuk at 4-1, 5-2 and 6-3.

The difference in the match-up may have been Carter and Gealer’s mastery of the no-advantage scoring system, as the pair won three of four deuces and will face surprising teammates Liam Moravec and Koji Semba in one semifinal.

Moravec and Semba defeated Monrovia’s Danny Ramirez and Nikko Cabal, 8-0, in the first round and then Temple City’s Terrence Sun and Harvey Gan, 8-3, in the quarterfinals.

Their advancement was just as unexpected as that of Titans No. 3 singles player sophomore Nicolas Splichal, who bested Monrovia’s Sean Watase, 8-1, in the first round and repeated the score versus Temple City’s Brian Wei in the quarterfinals.

Splichal will face Temple City ace Lestter Yeh in the other singles semifinal.

San Marino will carry the Pasadena-area torch after South Pasadena bowed out Wednesday.

The Tigers’ victories came from doubles players Scott Richards and Phillip Lim, who defeated La Cañada’s Joe Song and Liwon Lin, 8-6, in the first round before falling to Temple City’s Chris Lai and Johnny Wang, 8-4, in the quarterfinals.

Cheng defeated Monrovia’s top player, Robert Pedroza, in the first round, 8-6, before losing to Wade in the quarterfinals.

“We’re a young team and I’m satisfied with what we were able to accomplish,” Tigers Coach Jim Asher said. “We don’t have those marquee players like the San Marinos and Temple Cities do, but we’re still working hard and improving and looking forward to next year.”

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