By Dante Quazzo
Balboa High School senior Brendan On has been the number one seed in the Academic Athletic Association individual singles tournament since his freshman year, but until Friday, he wasn’t able to take home the title.
After finishing in the top three in each of the last three years, including two runner-up finishes, On finally broke through with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Lowell’s Alex Zhu to became Balboa’s first AAA tennis champion.
“It feels great to finally win for once,” On said. “We’ve never had a tennis champion for [the AAA tournament], so it was great to finally win one for [Balboa].”
On edged Zhu with the strength of his serve, using it to keep Zhu off balance. On also benefited from a solid and potent ground game.
“My serve was great. I had no double faults and it gave me some easy points,” On said. “I was playing consistent, long rallies and being patient, just waiting for the short ball to hit to the corner.”
Zhu played tough and had some spectacular points of his own, but it was not enough to overcome the Balboa champion.
Washington’s Hieu Huynh claimed third place without having to play in the third-place match, due to a disqualification.
Meanwhile, the AAA regular season team champion Lincoln Mustangs took first and third in the doubles bracket, with the pair of Mark Solovey and James Wan claiming the doubles title. Solovey and Wan defeated Lowell’s Dexter Lee and William Zhu 6-1, 6-2 to take the crown. This was the second year in a row that Wan has won a doubles title.
“It’s a big victory, especially for James, as he was able to defend his doubles title,” said Lincoln head coach Maria Ramos. “They really wanted to win, more than anything. Being in their senior years, it was the last opportunity for them in [the AAA championships].”
Solovey and Wan are normally singles players for the Mustangs, but had no trouble adapting to doubles in the AAA tournament.
“We played sophomore year together two years ago, and that helped a lot,” Solovey said.
Lincoln teammates Kevin Lam and Michael Xu took third place in the doubles bracket by defeating Lowell’s Marvin Huang and Billy Zou 7-6, 6-1.