Injuries may have put a damper on the first half of the season for the Laguna Beach High boys' tennis team, but they haven't stopped the Breakers from once again taking control of the Orange Coast League race.
At the start of the second half of the league season, Laguna sits atop the standings at 5-0. The Breakers picked up their latest win on March 28 by taking an 11-7 match from host Saddleback.
It also was the fifth win, overall, for the Breakers who are ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division.
They took a 5-8 record into spring break.
"Our doubles played very convincingly," Laguna Coach Don Davis said of the Saddleback win.
The Breakers haven't had a healthy lineup for the past month. Their No. 1 singles player, Teague Hamilton, has missed matches due to wrist and shoulder injuries. Zach Pratto, at No. 3 doubles, has been out with a sprained ankle. Tim Nguyen, who plays at No. 3 doubles, has a wrist injury.
Morgan Lebby, who plays No. 2 singles but has been thrust into the No. 1 spot in a few matches, missed last week's nonleague match against Whitney due to a school trip.
Davis has had to juggle his lineup to make up for those losses. Several players have stepped in, and stepped up.
"Our singles has been hurt by injuries, so we have lost some matches that we most likely could have won, but more importantly, our doubles teams are beginning to jell," he said. "We've kept the No. 1 and 2 doubles teams intact, formulated our No. 3 doubles team, and used whoever is available in singles."
The top two doubles teams, Ryan Gee/Oliver Nasiell, and Owen Weber/Alex Duong, have been steady throughout the season. Davis said the players who have stepped into the No. 3 line have "rotated" depending on which players have been available.
"It's been hard to really come up with a conclusive team at No. 3," he said.
Several players have stepped in to play both singles and doubles including Jeff Spitz, Noah Radach, Matt Meisberger, Jared Boetes and Andrew Koumas.
Laguna starts the stretch drive of its season Tuesday at home against Estancia, which is ranked fourth in Division 4, in a 3 p.m. league match. The Breakers defeated the Eagles, 11-7, in their first league meeting on March 14.
Davis said that a key to a strong finish for the Breakers is "having Teague [Hamilton] and Zach [Pratto] back in the singles lineup."
He said he expects to have Hamilton, Pratto and Nguyen, available starting next week.
"We should have our roster at full strength for the last few weeks of the season before CIF starts," Davis said with a chuckle in his voice.
Following the Estancia match, the Breakers play three consecutive nonleague matches beginning with a 3 p.m. meeting Thursday at Laguna Hills. Before the start of the Orange Coast League Tournament May 1, three Breakers will take part in the prestigious Ojai Tennis Tournament.
Davis said Hamilton has been accepted into the singles draw, and Lebby and Gee have been accepted into the doubles draw.
More than 1,500 junior, high school, collegiate and open division amateur players are entered in the amateur tournament.
Known as, The Ojai, the tournament will be played for the 113th time dating back to its debut in 1896. Among the tennis greats who have played Ojai include Billy Jean King, Bill Tilden, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Pancho Gonzales, Stan Smith, Tracy Austin, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, and Lindsay Davenport.
Tuesday: Estancia, 3 p.m.
Thursday: at Laguna Hills, 3 p.m.
April 18: Palm Springs, 3 p.m.
April 22: vs. Beckman (at Lower Peters Park), 3 p.m.
April 23: vs. Godinez (at Santa Ana Valley High), 3 p.m.
April 25: Costa Mesa, 3 p.m.
April 25-27: at Ojai Tournament
May 1-2: OCL Tournament (at Estancia), TBA.