ESCONDIDO — Larry Mulvania, San Dieguito High School boys' tennis coach, remembers when he and Vista Coach Stormy Sexton had the worst teams in their respective leagues five years ago.
"I had the worst team in the Palomar league and Stormy (then at Oceanside) had the worst team in the Avocado League," Mulvania said. "Now look where we are."
The coaches met Friday in the San Diego Section 3-A boys' tennis championships Friday at Tennis Escondido, which served as a fitting end to Vista's season and its coach's career.
Vista, ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, wrapped up its second straight section title early, winning the first four of seven matches. The top-seeded Panthers--in the last match for Sexton, who is retiring--beat San Dieguito, 5-2.
Michael Chang of San Dieguito defeated Sammy Stinnett of Vista, 6-2, 6-4, in the No. 1 singles match. And Mike Miringoff gave the Mustangs a victory in No. 2 singles with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, (7-5), victory over Vista's Thad Langsford in the day's closest and best-played match.
But Vista, which swept all three doubles matches and the No. 3 and No. 4 singles matches had too much depth for the second-seeded Mustangs.
It was the second year in a row that two Palomar League teams met in the 3-A finals, and this season four Palomar League teams reached the semifinals. Vista defeated Mt. Carmel last year, the first time the San Diego Section had split boys' tennis into 3-A and 2-A divisions.
Vista's No. 1 doubles team of Ian Skidmore and Mike Watson defeated Carl Chang and Ed Chin, 6-4, 6-1, for their 63rd victory without a loss this season.
Mike Brown and Chris Sappington defeated the Mustangs' Rudd McGarity and Andy Lee, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 2 doubles and Vista's Mark Olivier defeated James Monastero, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 4 singles.
Vista clinched the title when David Ondash and Jim Kachink defeated Eric Schmitt and Andy Roach, 6-2, 7-6, (7-4), at No. 3 doubles.
Vista's Thomas Tanner defeated Eduardo Simon, an exchange student from Brazil, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 4 singles.
St. Augustine overcame a protest to the San Diego section commissioner, but the Saints could not overcome No. 1-seeded La Jolla, which won the San Diego 2-A championship tournament, 6-1.
Ironically, St. Augustine--which was accused by Coronado Coach Robbin Adair of using its top players in lower-ranked matches in its semi-final victory Thursday over Coronado--won its only match in the No. 1 singles' slot. In that match, Marko Zuniga defeated La Jolla's Chad Morse in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
La Jolla's No. 2 singles' player, Dan McKenzie, and No. 3 singles player, Phillip Khalos, both came back from first-set losses to win their respective matches. McKenzie won, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4. Khalos won, 3-6, 7-5, 1-0.
Earlier in the day, Commissioner Kendall Webb refused to uphold Coronado's protest of its 5-2 defeat to St. Augustine, ruling that under current section rules, a tennis coach has complete freedom to decide which players appear in which matches.
"It was similar to disputing a ball or strike call in baseball," Webb said. "No rules were broken. It was just one coach's opinion . . . This is a subjective matter and I could not uphold a protest based purely on subjectivity."
However, Webb said the tennis coaches' committee will consider at its next meeting whether the section rules could be amended to prevent such disputes in the future.