‘Booie’ Grant, Ventura pair capture Channel League titles

A double fault that caused him to fall behind 4-3 in the second set of the Channel League tennis singles final didn’t faze Chris “Booie” Grant.

Grant shook it off, continued to serve hard, kept Dos Pueblos’ Jared Madison on the move with his ground strokes and pulled out a 6-4, 6-4 victory Thursday at the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club to give Santa Barbara its 12th straight league singles champion.

Cooper Matthieson (pictured) and Graham Maassen reached the doubles final for Santa Babrara High.

In doubles, Mike Lowe and Brendan McClain put on a dominating performance and breezed past Santa Barbara’s Cooper Matthiesen and Graham Maassen, 6-1, 6-0, to bring a championship to Ventura.

Lowe and McClain turned out to be a perfect partnership for coach Joan Dodge.

After hearing scuttlebut that Lowe wasn’t planning to come out for the team, Dodge said she told Lowe he didn’t need to play his senior.

“I said, ‘Michael, you don’t need to play,’ she recalled of the conversation. “And he said to me, ‘No way am I not going to play for you, Joan.’ To hear that makes me feel like a million bucks.”

Dodge then approached McClain, one of the elite age-group players in the state.

“I know he doesn’t play Channel League, but I asked him if can give Michael a thrill and play doubles with him. He said, ‘Sure, Joan.’ That’s a big thrill, and look how beautiful they played,” she said, proudly.

Lowe and McClain returned practically everything the Dons threw at them.

“Just playing solid tennis and having a good time out there,” said Lowe about the key to their success. “Having a great partner helps, too.”

“It feels great to win with my real good friend,” said McClain, whose father was a former prep and collegiate tennis star who now coaches at Ventura College and is the professional at the Pierpont Racquet Club. “We really pump each other up. Everything just melded together. Everything went well.”

Lowe and McClain said it was special to beat Santa Barbara, which has dominated the league for many years.

“It was a big goal for us. I’m loving it,” said Lowe.

At the beginning I wasn’t even thinking about it,” McClain admitted. “But the last few days, I wanted to win. This is our last year, so it’s a good feeling, especially to win it with my friend.”

Due to McClain’s junior tennis commitments, the Ventura pair will not play in CIF competition, Dodge said. Santa Barbara’s team of  Morgan Hale-Jack Damen will take the vacated spot after defeating  Petar Jivkov-Travis Enholm of San Marcos.

Grant said the singles final could have gone either way.

“I edged it out a little bit more,” he said. (Jared’s) definitely a great player, so it could have gone either way. I felt I just got it today.”

Madison had the edge early, breaking Grant to go up 3-1. But Grant came back with a big serve and started attacking the net to get himself back in the match. He won three straight games to go up 4-3.

Madison managed to square the set at 4-all before Grant broke back at 5-4. Madison fought off three set points before faltering.

“I kind of floated the ball to the middle a little too much,” said Madison. “I played good defense and should have played more offense.”

Madison regained the momentum and rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second set and took a 4-3 lead on Grant’s double fault.

But Grant bounced back by winning one of the longest rallies of the match. He eventually broke Madison and took control the rest of the way.

Both players advance to the CIF Regional Tournament.