Sophomore Pete Sampras of Palos Verdes High School is so good that it doesn't seem fair. So good, so young and so cool.
Sampras capped a perfect season Saturday as he defeated Bill Miller of Santa Barbara, 6-2, 6-1, to win the Southern Section Boys individual tennis title at the Balboa Bay Racquet Club in Newport Beach.
In a sport known for the emotions shown by its players, the 15-year-old Sampras is a breath of fresh air. He said hardly a word during the match. His only emotion was an occasional grin after missing an occasional shot. Not only is he relaxed and under control, he's also very good.
"That's what I do best," Sampras said. "I'm not too emotional. I don't worry about bad shots, I just go for the next one."
For the season, he won 58 sets without a loss in high school play. Maybe Palos Verdes Coach John Fullerton had it right when he jokingly said the only way to beat Sampras would be to cheat.
Nothing probably would have helped Miller. In the morning, he had played some of his best tennis to upset the No. 1-seed, Corona del Mar's Mike Briggs, in the semifinals.
Briggs, who won the title in 1985, was playing on his home court and brought a 56-0 record into the match. But Miller beat him for the first time, 6-3, 6-3.
Beating Briggs got him into the final, but it was a little too much to expect Miller to beat Briggs and Sampras in the same day.
"I'm satisfied," Miller said. "I played a pretty good match in the finals. (But) it's kind of hard to play two really good matches in the same day."
Sampras set the tone for the match with an ace on his first serve and took a 3-2 lead in the first set as each player held serve.
In the sixth game, Miller led, 40-15, and it appeared the pattern would continue. But Sampras, working on Miller's backhand, rallied to win the game for a 4-2 lead.
It was the last bit of resistance Miller offered as Sampras controlled the match after that with his powerful serves and deep volleys.
"I was very confident in the finals," Sampras said. "I thought he was going to be a little more pumped up."
"This guy (Sampras) is a hell of a player," Santa Barbara Coach Jack Trigueiro said. "His approach shots were so deep that he just had Bill handcuffed.
"There will be a whole lot heard from this guy's tennis."
Sampras' victory means that the Southern Section individual champion for both boys and girls came from the same house. Sampras' sister, Stella, won the girls' individual title in December. It is the first time a brother and sister have won both titles.
In the doubles, Stan Sanders and Neel Grover of Dana Hills defeated Brad Magers and Grant Hughes of Laguna Hills, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.