The Del Norte boys tennis season officially came to a close on Friday with the Humboldt-Del Norte League doubles championships in Crescent City.
The Warriors had a team in each of the three brackets at the tournament, but only the No. 2 doubles team of John Xiong and Xavier Young were able to pick up a win.
“Our No. 2 team with John and Xavier stood out the best to me,”said Del Norte head coach Jim Holt. “They played a pretty good first round and won that match, then the second game was pretty close. They lost 7-5 in the first set and a lot of those games were going to duce. I thought both of them worked well together.”
Young and Xiong picked up a 6-1, 6-2 victory over St. Bernard’s in the first match of the day, before running into top-seeded Arcata in the semifinals. Del Norte’s No. 2 team battled with the Tigers in the first set, eventually falling 7-5, before being knocked out with a 6-1 loss in the second set to the top overall seed.
Holt said he has been proud of the way the Young and Xiong have gelled as a doubles team throughout the season.
“Both of them a good volleyers and in doubles volleying is very important,” Holt said. “It isn’t as important in singles, but as a doubles team they are good together.”
In the No. 1 bracket, Del Norte’s Ricky Khilnani and Rylee Weaver went three sets with Ferndale before falling 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.
“I hate to see it because it is their senior year and it was their last match,” Holt said.
Khilnani and Weaver, along with Xiong, comprise the Warriors senior class this season and all wrapped up their high school tennis careers on Friday.
“They have meant a lot to us. They are our No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 players,” Holt said. “This is John’s first year, but I have had Ricky and Rylee for three years now. They didn’t play as freshmen, but I remember seeing them playing on the far court when I was out here. I asked them to come out for the team, but they didn’t want to then. They are good friends, which always helps. I wish I had them for one more year.”
Holt said Khilnani and Weaver especially, as the longest tenured members of the team, have had a huge impact on Del Norte’s team over the last few years.
“I am very proud of them, and they are going off to bigger and better things,” Holt said. “They have really helped me out as a coach because both of them were really my assistant coaches. I could count on them to get the courts ready and to run some of the ball drills with the younger kids. They are two mature men now, so we are going to miss them. I’m going to miss John too. He was our Steady Eddie this year, is what I called him.”
The No. 3 doubles bracket started in the semifinals, where Del Norte’s Connor Long and Guillermo Buitrago were paired up with No. 2-seeded Northcoast Prep. Long and Buitrago ended up being knocked out of the tournament with a score of 6-3, 6-2.
Overall, it was a rough year for tennis throughout the Humboldt-Del Norte League with several shorthanded teams and lots of wet weather making it difficult to get in matches.
“It was a season of wetness. We didn’t get to play Fortuna at all this year,”Holt said. “It was a little disappointing that McKinleyville and Eureka didn’t really have teams this year and the weather cut out meets in half this year. Overall it was a good year though. The kids were getting better as the season went along.”
With three seniors set to graduate in a little over a month, the Del Norte boys tennis team will be looking to rebuild somewhat heading into next season. The Warriors hope to return a strong core of five players, however. Holt said he is open to organize some summer workouts for next year’s team to get them out on the court about once per week to keep their skills fresh.
“We will see how it goes,” Holt said. “Hopefully I can get some more kids interested and involved in tennis because right now we are looking at five returners.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .