By beating Palos Verdes Peninsula, 11-7, in a Southern Section
Division I match at the Claremont Tennis Club, Hoover ended the longest
dry spell of any local sports team when it comes to CIF crowns.
The last time Hoover won a CIF championship in any sport was 1975,
when the baseball squad achieved that illustrious goal.
Twenty-two years later, clutch performances from nearly all the
members of the 13-player tennis squad finally yielded another title.
"I've been at Hoover since 1982, and I've been waiting a long time for
one of those," said Welsh, pointing to the CIF Championship trophy.
"Wow, it feels really good," said sophomore Sergy Vagramian, the
Tornadoes' No. 3 singles player. "Our school's going to be really proud
of us, because no [tennis] team at our school has done this before."
Vagramian is on the money.
The last time a Tornado team competed in a boys' tennis final was in
1931, when it finished second. The last time a Hoover team competed for a
CIF championship in any sport was 1982, when the boys' basketball team
took runner-up honors.
In fact, Hoover had earned just seven CIF crowns in its 73-year
history prior to Wednesday.
The barely holds a candle to Peninsula, arguably the premier high
school tennis program in Southern California. The Panthers have won a
combined 12 CIF titles in boys' and girls' tennis since the school opened
in 1991, not to mention making it to the final 19 times.
Against this year's Hoover squad, though, Peninsula -- winning history
and all -- just couldn't match up.
The Tornadoes finished the season 24-1, running roughshod against
nearly all of their opponents. Division V champion North Hollywood
Harvard-Westlake handed Coach Lynn Santamaria's squad its only setback.
Hoover easily won the Pacific League title, after finishing a distant
second last season.
The sudden success of the program could be attributed to the influx of
No. 1 singles player Dylan Kim moved here from South Korea, and
Hoover's other two singles players are new as well.
The singles play was the key to Wednesday's victory. The trio took
seven of the possible nine sets, including Kim's sweep. The feat is even
more impressive when one considers he had to beat Rylan Rizza -- one of
the nation's top 18-and-under players -- to do it.