With a 5-2 battering of Monte Vista Christian on March 30, Carmel now sits atop the league rankings at 6-1 through April 4.
With the season hitting full swing, the team’s early success met a speed bump versus rival Stevenson. Carmel was served a stunning 4-3 loss in the first match between the two teams on March 16. The team’s number one singles player, freshman Sima Pesic, was absent for the match, which likely largely impacted the final score.
With both teams at full strength in their rematch on March 22, however, Carmel was victorious 5-2 in an intense battle that could likely determine the league winner.
“The second win over Stevenson was very critical,” senior co-captain Adam Morrison explains. “It put us ahead of them in the league standings due to the fact that we won by more games in our second match than they won by in our first match against them.”
Carmel now also owns the tiebreaker between the two teams who currently share the same record.
“The story of this team is how the lower doubles team are gonna carry the team as it is one of our strengths,” CHS coach Jim Somerville explains. “We have solid one, two, three and four singles positions in players Pesic, [sophomore] Daniel Papacica, Adam Morrison, and [senior] Ryan Lin. “
Perhaps the biggest obstacle the team faces this year is its lack of experience. With a mere two seniors, the majority of players are freshmen and sophomores. With that being said, Somerville acknowledges that younger players are stepping up.
“Many of the returning sophomores are learning the ropes through Lin and Morrison and stepping into leadership positions,” Somerville says.
Where this lack of experience really will test their success is with their doubles teams as successful players learn to play next to each other over years.
“Chemistry and communication are essential to a solid doubles team,” Somerville notes. “You have to have someone that is proactive and can take the net over because that will draw in the team member. New players will have tougher times coordinating who will be aggressive up on the net, but it’s something that takes time as you have to be aggressive in doubles to win it.”
With few players having extended playing time with teammates in doubles situation due to majority of freshmen and sophomores, the only way to improve this skill is to gain experience through playing time, Somerville notes.
And while this younger Carmel team may lack in experience, they make up for with youth and talent.
“This year the strength is that our one and two singles players are the highest statewide-ranked players that we have had for a long, long time,” says Somerville, referring to Pesic and Papacica.
Though a repeat of last year’s undefeated league performance is no longer possible, the Central Coast Section playoffs are still very much in play as the team looks forward, having bested its most formidable opponent.
With only three more matches until playoffs begin on April 21, the Padres look to finish strong as they take on Monterey High School next on April 17.