Prep, which counted Eric Kazangian’s 6-1 win as its only singles triumph, was down, 5-1, after the first rotation, which included a tough tiebreaker loss for No. 2 doubles Krishan Suthurshana and Kent Byun.
It was a deficit too great to overcome, despite a strong day from Lee and Kim, who posted 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 wins, and Santa Monica (14-3), the second-place team from the Ocean League, was never threatened.
The Rebels, who lost to Ayala last season by the same 13-5 score in the first round of the playoffs, also got a 6-4 win from Suthurshana and Byun.
Catano said he thought the team suffered from the unfortunate timing of AP testing at school throughout the week leading up to Wednesday’s match.
“They didn’t practice and I think that really hurt them,” said Catano, the reigning All-Area Coach of the Year. “[Santa Monica] came out on fire and our lack of practice really showed.
“We didn’t compete as well as we normally do.”
Prep finished runner-up to Chadwick in defense of its league co-title this season, but Catano said he was still happy with the results of the campaign.
“Overall, we had a great season,” he said. “In league we lost a few close matches, but we played well enough to get back to the playoffs.
“Once we were there, it was a different story.”