BTen: Perera completes unbeaten league season; DP wins in doubles

San Marcos' Kento Perera hits a forehand in Thursday's Channel League singles final. (Presidio Sports Photos)

San Marcos’ Kento Perera hits a forehand in Thursday’s Channel League singles final. (Presidio Sports Photos)


Calm and collected, freshman Kento Perera did on Thursday what he’s been doing all season long.


A 7-6(2), 6-1 victory over Santa Barbara High’s Morgan Hale gave the newcomer from San Marcos the Channel League individual singles title, a first for a Royals tennis player since 1998.

Perera didn’t lose a set all season in league play but came close on Thursday.  Hale had Perera backed into a corner in the first set but the freshman showed composure on the court beyond his years, coming back from a break down in the first set to win in a tiebreaker.

“To be honest, I actually thought I was going to lose my first set of the season,” Perera said. “But I knew that there would always be opportunity if I just stayed strong. I just kept fighting for every point.”

Hale took a 5-3 lead with strong serving and a focus on shortening points by consistently coming into net.

“That’s part of my game, but especially against Kento because his ground strokes are so solid that if I get into long points with him, my chances aren’t as good as when I come to net,” Hale explained.

Morgan Hale - Santa Barbara Tennis

Santa Barbara High’s Morgan Hale reaches for a forehand during Thursday’s final.

The San Marcos freshman didn’t crumble under the pressure of falling behind for just the second time during the season. He won the next three games and dominated the tiebreaker 7-2.

“I really placed my serve well in the tiebreak and I was able to control the point,” Perera said.

Perera had an easier time in the second set.

“I had a lot of momentum going into the second set. I told myself to stay focused in the second set and make sure I keep the pressure on,” Perera said.

Hale came close to cracking Perera and will have a personal interest in watching what Perera can do throughout his high school career. Hale’s younger brother, Miles, is a freshman tennis player with the Dons.

“It’s kind of annoying (losing to a freshman),” Morgan Hale said with a smile. “But he’s going do well in this league. My brother is going to have to find a way to take him down somehow.”

Miles Baldwin and Patrick Corpuz shake hands following match point on Thursday.

Miles Baldwin and Patrick Corpuz shake hands following match point on Thursday.

San Marcos head coach Jarrod Bradley has been impressed with his freshman’s ability and work ethic.

“You can’t play inside the baseline on him, so he’s always on the aggressive, he’s always dictating shots and dictating points,” Bradley said.

In doubles, Patrick Corpuz and Miles Baldwin teamed to top Joshua Wang and Mason Casady 7-6, 6-4 in an all-Dos Pueblos final. It was the first time in league history that two teams from Dos Pueblos had played for the doubles title.

“Mason and Josh are doubles specialists,”  said Corpuz. “They’re so good at constructing points and playing classic doubles tennis. We just had to bring our big spin and power. It worked.”

It was just the second loss of the season suffered by Casady and Wang.

“They just had big serves that we weren’t really able to return,” Casady said. “We didn’t have that many breaks, and that return game with their massive serves was hard to deal with.”

Like the singles final, the doubles title needed a first-set tiebreaker to settle the score. And like singles, the winning team nearly lost the first set before rallying for the victory.

Wang and Casady were serving up 5-4 but failed to close out the first set, giving up their first break of the match. The duo fought off two set points in the tiebreaker but fell 7-5.

“I thought when they won that sixth game to take it to a tiebreaker, I just thought we really had to bring our ‘A’ game in this breaker. It’s a big deal,” Corpuz said.

Baldwin, a freshman, and Corpuz, a junior, broke early in the second set and held serve the rest of the way.

All of Thursday’s finalists qualify for the CIF Individual Tournament, which begins with the regional rounds on Thursay, May 29 at Cate School.