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Tennis Jewels Shine Brightest in San Marino's Three Crowns

June 16, 1988|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

It's quite a racket they have going at San Marino High School.

A tennis racket, that is.

San Marino was one of only three schools in the Southland--along with Agoura and Woodbridge--to win three CIF Southern Section titles during the 1987-88 prep season, and the Titans have their tennis program to thank most.

The Titans won the girls CIF 3-A Division tennis title last November and the boys 3-A net championship June 1. Toss in a 3-A title in boys swimming May 14 and it adds up to a pretty good sports year for San Marino.

It sounds even better when you consider that the Titans also advanced to the 2-A semifinals in water polo last November, third in girls swimming in May and reached the CIF playoffs in football, baseball, boys soccer, girls volleyball and girls basketball.

An all-around sports success, indeed.

But there is little doubt about which sport has been best for San Marino in recent years.

Not when the girls tennis team has won Southern Section divisional titles five of the last six years--including three in a row--and the boys tennis team has finished first in its division for two straight seasons.

The championships put the finishing touch on perfect seasons for both teams. The San Marino girls finished with a 25-0 record and the boys were 20-0.

San Marino beat undefeated Laguna Hills, 13-5, in the girls title match behind the play of Su-Lin Kong and Roxy Protasovicki in singles and Caryn Cranston and Amy Okum in doubles.

That also extended San Marino's winning streak in match play to 73 and gave the Titans three consecutive undefeated seasons. The last loss was to Westlake in the 3-A semifinals in 1984.

The San Marino boys haven't approached numbers such as those in recent years. But with their 12-6 win over Los Alamitos in the 3-A finals, the Titans captured their school's 15th title in boys tennis.

Leading the way were senior Andrew Sheppert and junior John Fruttero, who had also played key roles the previous season.

Tennis may have overshadowed the Titans success in boys swimming. Behind freestyler John Cady, San Marino outdistanced runner-up Loyola by 87 points (180-93) to win the 3-A title.

Cady, who led the Titans to their first title since 1978 and fifth in school history, won the 50-yard freestyle in a division-record 20.71 seconds and finished second in the 100-yard freestyle. He also swam a leg for San Marino's second-place 200-yard medley relay team.

Four other schools finished with two titles apiece.

Arroyo captured 3-A titles in boys cross-country and boys track; Diamond Bar won championships in 5-A baseball and 3-A boys soccer; Maranatha in 1-A girls cross-country and 1-A girls volleyball and Rosemead in 3-A wrestling and 3-A co-ed badminton.

Winning Southern Section titles has been nothing new to Arroyo in recent years. With its cross-country and track titles, Arroyo is the only school from the valley that has won CIF titles in each of the last four years. The Knights won the CIF Southeastern Conference football and 2-A cross-country crowns in the 1986-87 season, 2-A girls softball in 1985-86 and 4-A girls gymnastics in 1984-85.

Arroyo's biggest success in recent years has been in boys cross-country, and that was never more apparent than this season. Not only did the Knights win the Southern Section 3-A title, they also won the first state Division I championship and were ranked No. 1 in the nation by one publication.

The Knights saved their best for the state meet. Arroyo placed five runners among the top 37 finishers to score 41 points and easily outdistance second-place Dana Hills (115). Leading the way were Jaime Ortega in fourth place in 15:23, Jeff Gilkey in sixth (15:29) and Derrick Powers in 10th (15:31).

Considering that the Knights won the cross-country title, it was not surprising that they carried their success over to boys track. Arroyo outscored runner-up Upland, 46 to 26 3/4, to win its first 3-A title May 22.

The Knights were led by 6-8, 275-pound senior Rick Fuller, who won the shot put with a toss of 60-6 and discus at 170-9, and Mike Dietch, who took the pole vault at 15-0. Powers contributed by finishing second in the 3,200 meters.

Arroyo's football team which finished second in the CIF Southeastern Conference after winning the title the year before. The Knights were blasted by Cajon, 44-6, in the championship game last December but finished with a 10-4 record.

It was also a big sports year for Diamond Bar, which added to its growing tradition in baseball and boys soccer with titles. Diamond Bar also reached the divisional quarterfinals in football, boys basketball and girls softball.

The Brahmas claimed their second baseball title in the school's six-year history with a 3-2 victory over Esperanza in the 5-A title game June 4 at Anaheim Stadium. Diamond Bar captured the 2-A title in 1985 and has won its league championship the last four years.

Diamond Bar, which finished 24-7, won its latest title behind the pitching of Paul Spere and Tony Darden and the hitting of outfielder Jim Edmonds.

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