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Boys' Tennis: CdM shows it is King

Balanced effort allows Corona del Mar to top Palos Verdes on road, in battle of Division 1 powerhouses.

By Matt Szabo

12:34 AM EST, March 7, 2013

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PALOS VERDES ESTATES — As members of the Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team finished off their nonleague match at Palos Verdes on Wednesday, they naturally were hungry.

Palos Verdes parents were grilling burgers near the tennis court. Some of the CdM players were a bit apprehensive at first, wondering if they should pay for their meal.

The burgers turned out to be on the house for the players. They probably tasted a bit more delicious after a big win.

Corona del Mar dominated the battle of the teams with Sea Kings as a mascot, cruising to a 14-4 victory.

It has been a big start to the season for CdM (4-0) and first-year coach Jamie Gresh. CdM, coming off a season when it made the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match for the first time in nine years, is younger this year but appears to have that kind of talent again.

"We have pretty good depth in singles and doubles," said UC Davis-bound senior Alec Adamson, who swept Wednesday at No. 1 singles. "With a younger team, it's definitely good to get some good tests. It'll help us in CIF, and when we go up against Uni. We're going to have to pull out the close matches against Uni, to try to beat them this year."

CdM won the La Jolla Country Day Invitational last weekend in dominant fashion. The visitors stayed calm under pressure against Palos Verdes (0-2) as well.

CdM won four sets by a 6-4 score, and two by a 7-5 score. The No. 1 doubles team of juniors Carson Williams and Josh Kliger swept, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

"We started out a little flat," Williams said. "All of our matches were close, but we were able to pull them out. We came out really confident [as a team]. [Palos Verdes] lost to the team [La Jolla] that we beat 9-0 in the tournament."

CdM jumped out to a 5-1 lead, including Adamson's 6-4 set victory against Palos Verdes junior Jake Douglas at No. 1 singles. The set was on serve until the final game, when Adamson broke.

Adamson is ranked No. 21 in Southern California in boys' 18s, while Douglas is No. 12 in the 16s.

"He started really well right off the bat," Adamson said. "I just was able to weather the storm, stayed focused and broke him in the end."

CdM sophomore Chaz Downing, who also swept at No. 2 singles, also finished off the match with an impressive 6-4 victory over Douglas, the two-time Bay League singles champion.

Sophomore Ryan Andrews, a transfer from Oregon who usually plays doubles, won once at No. 3 singles. Gresh put him there as his team was missing freshman Bjorn Hoffmann (vacation).

The CdM doubles teams of seniors Paul Kacik and Andrew Nguyen, as well as sophomore Tyler Gaede and freshman Pedro Fernandez, each won twice. Fernandez is a transfer from Mexico.

"[Fernandez, Andrews and Hoffmann] are impact players," Gresh said. "I feel like they've done a good job of transitioning themselves into the high school tennis format. They're understanding that at times they'll play singles, and at times they'll play doubles, and they're needing to be well-rounded in both singles and doubles."

Palos Verdes managed its only two doubles set wins when the No. 2 team of Dylan Holt and Elliot Solandt won two of three sets. Holt is the oldest son of former world No. 1 Tracy Austin, a two-time U.S. Open champion who watched the proceedings Wednesday. Austin's middle son, freshman Brandon Holt, won once at No. 2 singles for Palos Verdes, as did Douglas.

Palos Verdes Coach Danny Moscovici has seen his team open with tough nonleague losses to San Marino and CdM. The hosts were also hurt Wednesday as Kent Makai battled through a right wrist injury at No. 1 doubles. With CdM clinching the match after the second round, Moscovici subbed out Makai for the final set.

"Corona's playing really well early on," said Moscovici, who has led Palos Verdes to the Division 1 semifinals each of the last two years. "We still need to find that groove, you know? [Going] 0-2 is unusual, but it's definitely the toughest two matches in our schedule."

CdM plays at Beverly Hills on Thursday, weather permitting. Tough matches next week include Los Alamitos at home Wednesday, then the annual CdM All-American tournament next weekend.

"Winning the La Jolla Tournament was a great kick-start to our season," Gresh said. "That weekend was invaluable for our development."

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo