CLAREMONT – The breakthrough came Wednesday afternoon when Magnolia’s boys tennis team won its first-ever postseason semifinal and qualified for the program’s first CIF-SS championship.
Getting there is one thing. And as the Sentinels learned on Friday, winning it is another.
Top-seeded Magnolia dropped its first match of the season, running into a buzzsaw that was Gahr of Cerritos, which wrapped up the CIF-SS Division 5 title by the second round, storming past the Sentinels, 14-4, at the Claremont Club.
The Gladiators (15-4), who started their playoff run in the wild-card run, put an exclamation mark on its championship march by getting sweeps from Christopher Rasch and Joshua Tesoro on the singles side. The Meet Patel-Ezekial Julian Cruz pair and the Benjamin Lee-Darrion Nghiem duo swept on the doubles side, as Gahr led, 5-1, after the first round and 9-3 after the second.
Magnolia turned in a 21-1 overall record this season.
“Super-proud considering all the teams that are in the Southern Section and we finish No. 2,” Sentinels coach Anne Fumelle said. “You can’t complain about that.”
Senior Bao Diep notched the Sentinels’ lone singles point in the second round, topping Gahr No. 3 Ibrahim Ahmed, 6-3. Magnolia received one point from each of its three doubles teams, all of which came against Gahr’s No. 3 tandem.
“I think this gives the kids an incentive and it helps build your program,” Fumelle added….