For years it wasn't easy for Coach Bud Kling to motivate his Palisades High School boys' tennis team because the Dolphins kept winning the City Section title.
But having been ousted in the quarterfinals of last season's playoffs, Palisades had something to shoot for this season and it showed.
The Dolphins easily defeated Taft of Woodland Hills, 23 1/2-6, Friday at the Studio City Racquet Centre. It was their 10th 4-A Division title in the last 12 years.
"This is a special win for us, since we lost the title last year," said Kling, who has 15 City championships, including five girls' titles. "The kids knew that this had to be a solid team that worked hard and won with discipline."
The Dolphins (18-3-1) were surprised that they dominated the match, winning every set in singles play.
"They were not as tough as I thought they would be," said Drake Jantzen, the Dolphins' top singles player. "Because they beat Uni (University) in the semifinals, we thought that this would be a real tight match."
That's also what Kling thought after Taft beat University, which had defeated Palisades twice during the season.
"We knew that we were not the most talented team in the tournament," Kling said. "It was important for us not to make any mental mistakes on the court because Taft is a good team."
Taft Coach Marvin Jones credited Palisades' balance.
"In round-robin play, it's depth what counts and Palisades is deep," Jones said. "I am just proud about how hard this (Taft) team has worked to get here."
Along with Jantzen, the Dolphins also received strong singles play from sophomore J.J. Mulcahy and seniors Roy Gessford and Aldryn Aguirre. Aguirre and Gessford will team up in the City doubles finals Tuesday.
"This is a team I will savor because they had to work and get better along the way to get here. With some of the other teams, there was so much talent that it was anticlimactic when you won the title. Not with this one."
In the 3-A Division final, Kennedy of Granada Hills defeated two-time defending champion Eagle Rock, 20-9 1/2, for its first City title.
Kennedy, moving down from the 4-A Division for the first time this season, took command of the match with its strong doubles play.
Led by its No. 3 team of Eun Sung Song and Che Naveja, which did not lose a set throughout the playoffs, Kennedy won eight of the nine doubles matchups.
"Our doubles went wild today," Kennedy Coach Craig Raub said. "We are not a tennis power, but our overall balance paid off for us at the end."
Kennedy finished the season at 19-1, and Eagle Rock, which had won five of the last seven 3-A Division title, finished at 25-2.