Courtside chatter said the power of Santa Barbara's Alex Decret would overwhelm Peninsula's Loren Peters in the Southern Section individual tennis finals at Huntington Beach.
The crowd at SeaCliff Country Club had the right idea, but the wrong player.
Fourth-seeded Peters blasted his way to the championship, defeating second-seeded Decret, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, Saturday behind a blistering first serve and strong groundstrokes.
Few of the spectators gathered for the finals wandered to Court 4 during the semifinals, where Peters' crush-and-volley attack made short work of Harvard-Westlake's Phillip Tseng, 6-2, 6-0. Instead, most of the fans chose to watch an impressive semifinal display by Decret on Court 1, where he defeated San Clemente's David Roditi, the No. 3 seeded player, 6-3, 6-4.
Peters, a junior, might have been a mystery at the start of the finals, but his serve quickly established him against Decret. The players stayed on serve to 6-6 in the first set, forcing a tiebreaker.
Decret took a 4-1 lead, but Peters came back with two service winners to tie, 4-4. Peters then won three of the next four points, including a winner set up by a big serve at set point to win the tiebreaker, 7-5.
"Those two big serves (in the tiebreaker) got me back in the match," Peters said. "I kept fighting, even after it was 4-1, because I felt like I was serving well enough that I could come back."
Peters took the momentum into the second set and cruised to a 6-1 victory to win the championship. Decret and Peters will meet again Wednesday in the Division 4-A team finals between top-seeded Santa Barbara and second-seeded Peninsula.
In the doubles final, San Clemente's Jeff Marsden and Daniel Roditi defeated Jeremy Driscoll and Steen Lundblad of Dana Hills, 6-2, 6-3, in a rematch of the South Coast League doubles championship earlier this month. In that match, Driscoll and Lundblad won, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
Neither team in the finals was seeded, but both defeated top seeds to get there.