BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
There were no high-fives. No jumping around and screaming. No buckets of ice water dumped on the coach. The Bakersfield Christian boys tennis team beat Taft High 6-3 to clinch the South Sequoia League championship on Tuesday without any fanfare. Instead, the Eagles had a brief team meeting and quietly headed home.
Winning league titles has become just par for the course for BCHS, which clinched its ninth in a row by downing the Wildcats.
Taft, looking for a share of its first league championship since the 1980s, came into the day just one match behind BCHS atop the SSL standings.
But the Wildcats' title hopes were quickly extinguished as BCHS won all six singles matches.
The victory is the 17th in a row for the Eagles, who were coming off a grueling, 6-3, road victory over Visalia-Central Valley Christian on Monday.
"This year really culminates the success that we've had for the last four years with seniors like Sullivan Roche and Nolan Schuler," BCHS coach Frank Thiessen said. "When they came in as freshman we sort of projected that with them and the other young men that we had that we would be in contention for the title for the next four years as long we worked hard and attempted to do our best when we played."
The Eagles (21-6, 14-0 SSL) led by Roche, a Sonoma State signee, plus Schuster, and Tanner Harris, dominated the top half of the singles ladder against Taft. The three won their matches by a combined score of 36-6.
Taft (20-4 12-2 SSL), which beat BCHS at No. 5 and No. 6 singles the first time the two teams met this year -- a 6-3 BCHS victory -- was much more competitive at the bottom half of the singles ladder. Even so, the Eagles were able to pull out the only two competitive singles matches.
At No. 4 singles Nicolo Daug defeated Cameron Bunch 6-2, 7-6 (7-2). At No. 6, Joe Cao, an exchange student from China, beat Kyler Fields 3-6, 6-2, 10-7.
"We had a great season," Taft coach Jim Carnal said. "Bakersfield Christian is just a little too tough for us at the top. The top four players are really good. This is the first year that we've finished second in a long time so that was good."
Having already clinched the team win after singles, Thiessen didn't use any of his top five players in doubles.
Taft was without it No. 3 player Matua Iakopo, who rolled his ankle about a week ago.
The Wildcats expect to have Iakopo back when the team playoffs begin next week. Taft will be competing in Division IV, where it will likely get one of the top two seeds. CVC is expected to get the other.