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Notebook : One Tennis Title That Stands Out for Palisades Coach

June 15, 1989|Ray Ripton

It's not true that Coach Bud Kling's Palisades High School boys and girls tennis teams have won so many Los Angeles City championships that he has trouble differentiating one team from another.

Kling remembers all of them. And it takes a good memory.

His boys have won nine 4-A titles in his 11 years as coach, and his girls teams, which he began coaching several years after he arrived at Palisades, have won the last five 4-A championships.

Still, he is especially fond of his 1989 and 1982 boys titlists for one reason: They weren't supposed to win.

Last week's 23 1/3-6 defeat of Taft, which had upset top-seeded and defending champion University in the semifinals, was especially memorable because the Dolphins swept all 16 singles matches, which gave them one more point than the 15 necessary to win the match.

Palisades seniors Drake Jantzen, Roy Gessford and Aldryn Aguirre and sophomore J. J. Mulcahy were each 4-0 in singles.

Kling didn't think Taft was flat after its upset of University but that the Toreadors, whose strength was in doubles, probably lost heart when they realized that Palisades was in the midst of sweeping the singles matches.

The Palisades doubles teams also did better than Kling expected, winning five of nine sets from Taft. The No. 1 team of Ardy Ghaffari-Jon Faller was 2-1, No. 2 Gregg Rosenbloom-Damon Curran was 1-2 and No. 3 Jeremy Grunstein-Arseen Solimon was 2-1.

"I think it was a shock that we won so easily," Kling said. "But it didn't detract from the emotion of the victory.

"In previous years, we were so strong that all we had to do was just go out there and play, and it (winning a title) was anticlimactic. We would do the job and win, shake hands, congratulate ourselves and go home."

He said that when this year's team began the season it did "not have the most natural talent."

"We were underdogs, but we worked really hard," he said. "We lost to University twice in league, each 4-3, but we worked on being a round-robin team. The kids got used to playing a lot of different people (instead of No. 1 singles and doubles playing the other team's No. 1s, etc., in dual matches), and we just peaked at the right time. I don't know if it was luck or me or just the kids or a combination of all three."

Kling said this team reminded him a lot of the 1982 squad that had Doug Wertheimer, Bill Ackerman, Dean Stackel, Andy Sands and Danny Alle.

The players in 1982, he said, "were really nice guys who were not overloaded with talent, but the kids worked hard. We weren't favored to win, and we did."

Next year's Dolphins may be similar to this year's and the 1982 models. Kling's only returning varsity players will be Mulcahy and the No. 1 doubles team of Faller-Ghaffari, juniors who will play singles.

Junior Graham Collins, who played junior varsity this year, will move to varsity, and Kling thinks that a couple of sophomores who concentrated on their course of advanced studies this year instead of playing for him will come out for the team. Sam Morshed, a top player from Paul Revere Junior High, also is expected to play for the varsity.

Kling will have to enlist the rest of his varsity from his physical education classes in tennis. He said he will have to encourage some of them to take tennis lessons to see if they are interested. "Before I never had to do that; now I've got to find players."

In past years, he said, players who honed their game on private courts and in junior tournaments flocked to Palisades. In recent years, however, more and more talented junior players have been going to private schools instead of public schools such as Palisades and University, he added.

He thinks that University should be strong again next year because Coach Tom Anderson will have a flock of players returning from the varsity and jayvees.

The disparity between University and the Dolphins, he said, "should be even greater than this year. But it will be a challenge."

Santa Monica College swimmers Andrea Bardin, Cecilia Henriksen, Chris Hall and Robert Hudek were among 11 performers on Coach John Joseph's men's and women's teams who were named community college All-Americans.

Each was honored for times in individual events and/or relay swims that were among the top 16 in the nation during the past season.

Bardin and Henriksen were cited for seven women's events. Leading the SMC men were Hall in six events and Hudek in five.

Other Corsair All-Americans and the number of events for which they were honored were Kerry O'Mahoney (six), Jeannie Chick (four) and Lisa Battig (two) for the women.

Other SMC men were Mike Frazier (four), Jerry Shandrew (two) and Tom Kaye and Tony DeGeorge (each one).

In 1989, the SMC men won their fifth consecutive Western State Conference championship and the Corsair women their third straight WSC crown. Both teams were undefeated in dual meets, and both finished in fifth place at the state meet.

Nine Westside high school baseball players were named to All-Los Angeles City teams chosen by sportswriters and officials of First Interstate Bank and the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles.

The 4-A team included Westchester High outfielder Victor Darensbourg, Palisades infielders Barry Levine and Larry Israel, Venice infielder Damian Valdivia and pitchers Mike Codron of Palisades and Eric Alexander of University.

The 3-A team included Fairfax outfielder Earl Johnson, Hamilton infielder Jay Fields and Fairfax pitcher Danny Choi.

Fields is the only junior among the nine Westside players; the rest are seniors.

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