Dons’ tennis rivalry with CdM is one for the ages

His players may be too young to know it, but Santa Barbara High boys tennis coach Greg Tebbe says the Dons’ court rivalry with Corona del Mar is like the L.A. Lakers against the Boston Celtics in the NBA.

“Corona del Mar and Santa Barbara are two of the most successful high school programs in southern California in the last 30 years, I’d say,” Tebbe said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

The Dons, ranked fifth in CIF Division 1, will play host to No. 2 Corona del Mar on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Tennis Club of Santa Barbara.

“I analogize that rivalry with the Lakers and Celtics,” Tebbe said. “I tell my kids that, but I’m not sure they’re old enough to appreciate the Lakers-Celtics rivalry.”

Tebbe himself played in the Santa Barbara-CdM clashes.

“I played at Santa Barbara High School and my first year in 1979 we played Corona del Mar in the CIF finals,” he said. “I still remember that match vividly, it was a close match. Unfortunately, we lost.”

Tebbe noted that anytime the Dons play the Sea Kings, he looks forward to “getting a little revenge against them.”

Two players Tebbe is counting on are Nico Pollero and Logan Liddell. Pollero is the No. 1 singles player, who has records of 12-0 in dual matches and 18-6 overall. Liddell, a doubles specialist, is 12-1 and 17-3. The two players will represent the Dons in the high school championships at the prestigious Ojai Invitational.

Tebbe said the Dons are in the “real meat of their season.” Besides Corona del Mar, they play at No. 4 Palos Verdes on Tuesday and face No. 3 Harvard Westlake next week.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll definitely get a good sense of where we stand relative to the other top teams going into the playoffs,” he said.

San Marcos tennis coach Jarrod Bradley introduced lefthander Lucas Budget, a member of the Royals’ No. 2 doubles team, and Spencer Kennedy, who plays at No. 1 doubles. Bradley said Budget has been accepted to UCLA and Kennedy is going to Connecticut.

Carpinteria is 5-0 in the Frontier League and looking to make the playoffs for the first time in four years and win a league championship for the first time in 20 years, reported athletic director Pat Cooney.

No. 1 doubles partners Tim Goulart and Greg Norton have been key to the Warriors’ success.

Cooney said Goulart has been accepted to Emery Riddle, a flight school in Arizona.

SBCC sports information specialist Dave Loveton reported that one men’s doubles team and three women’s doubles teams qualified for the Southern California Regional tournament and the full women’s team made the regional for the third straight year. They’re seeded fifth and they open at Riverside on Tuesday.

In softball, coach Jeff Swan of San Marcos said his team managed to get in three games last week and went 2-1. He brought Angel Mermis, who hit a walk-off triple in a 3-2 win over St. Bonaventure, and his daughter Stephanie Swan, who singled and scored the winning run. He noted that Mermis is also on the San Marcos Cheer Team and Swan is a member of the Marquettes dance team and carries a 4.5 grade point average.

Cooney said the Carpinteria softball team had 17 days off. He brought leadoff hitter and outfielder Erin Saito and catcher Elise Rodriguez, a two-year starter.

Jason Donnelly, reporting for Bishop Diego softball, introduced Julia Jenkins and Ava De Nunzio. The Cardinals, coming off spring break, have won three of their last four games.

SBCC baseball coach Jeff Walker felt gratified after his Vaqueros beat Ventura 3-2 in a rain make-up game on Saturday at Pershing Park. The team worked most of that morning getting the field ready after Friday’s rainstorm.

“There’s nothing worse than working on the baseball field all day because it rained Friday and then lose on it,” he said. “That’s a perennial baseball worst thing ever.”

Left fielder and lead-off hitter Eli Michaels and reliever Lucas Benenati were in attendance. Benenati has five saves.

Westmont split a four-game GSAC series with defending NAIA champion Concordia and is in the running for a playoff sport, said coach Robert Ruiz.

“We felt like we gave ourselves good momentum going into our last eight games,” Ruiz said.

The Warriors play No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific in a four-game series this week and finish the regular season next week against Vanguard.

UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts was happy to report that Matt Vedo is pitching well. He threw 10 innings last week and posted 15 strikeouts while walking only two. He struck out 12 against Cal Poly.

“Those of you who follow us know we’re counting on him a lot,” Checketts said. “He’s had an up and down year. He pretty much was dominant all week.”

Checketts also noted that Kevin Gelinas pitched a couple of shutout innings against Long Beach State.

The Gauchos went 1-3 during the week, beating Cal Poly and losing three close games at Long Beach State. The second game went 15 innings.

“We played better than I think 0-3, but I told somebody they don’t give you point two-five points for playing close,” said Checketts.

Santa Barbara assistant George Rempe said the Dons play two crucial league games against San Marcos this week. “Both teams are battling for a playoff spot.”

Rempe brought Johnny Brontsema, Toby Minehan and Tanner Guerra.

Cooney said his Carpinteria baseball team continues to split games. The Warriors are 7- 7 overall, 2-2 in league play, 3-4 at home and 4-3 on the road.

Cooney introduced Diego Martinez and Marcus Hutchinson. He said Martinez has a knack of getting two-out hits, especially with runners in scoring position. Hutchinson is one of the most experienced players on the team.

“As Marcus goes, our team seems to go,” said Cooney.

Cate coach Ben Soto said his team is 5-1, thanks to the play of Athlete of the Week Justin “Flow” Lucchesi and Michael “Baby Dude” Warren.

Donnelly introduced two standout sophomores that are helping the Bishop Diego baseball team: pitcher Nolan Tooley and second baseman Scott Mandrell.

San Marcos baseball assistant Michael Sandford noted the big two-game week with Santa Barbara. He brought “fearless” relief pitcher Anthony Branch, who is 4-1 on the mound and carries a 4.0 GPA, and sophomore three-sport athlete Wesley Ghan-Gibson. He started the season on the JV team and is now the starting varsity shortstop and a pitcher.

Sandford expects the league race to go down to the wire.

“The next three weeks are pretty important for the Channel League; all the teams are close. It’ll be an upside-down battle and roll in the dust.”