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PREP TENNIS / PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE TOURNAMENT

Laguna Beach's Talarico Rolls to Singles Crown

May 07, 1997|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAGUNA NIGUEL — It was rather fitting that Laguna Beach junior Aaron Talarico won the Pacific Coast League singles title. He had been the league's best singles player during the season, losing only once in 30 sets of tennis.

Tuesday at Laguna Niguel Racquet Club, Talarico proved he was easily the best player in the PCL. He defeated Estancia's Mike Leonard, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals, then took care of University's Greg Biorkman, 6-1, 6-2, to win the league singles title.

Talarico's victory over Biorkman took less than an hour and it capped an incredible turnaround season. Not only is Talarico the league's best player, but he's the most improved.

A year ago, Talarico lost eight sets in league play and wasn't even considered one of the top five players in the PCL. But Talarico worked hard on his game in the fall and attended a tennis camp in Florida for five weeks before the high school season started in March.

Laguna Beach Coach John Anawalt said Talarico's performance against Biorkman was typical of the way he played all season.

"Aaron had only two unforced errors in the first set and he had only a handful in the second set," Anawalt said. "He's been great for us."

Talarico jumped on Biorkman early by winning the first five games. Biorkman never recovered.

"I tried to get the first shot on him," Talarico said. "And I tried to stay inside the baseline and keep the pressure up. I wanted to keep him out of his rhythm because he's a real good player."

A good player who seemed off his game Tuesday. Biorkman had trouble with his serve, sprayed his ground strokes all over the court and was a step slow on getting to his volleys. His coach, Josh Davis, and his brother, Jon, who has missed the entire season because of two herniated disks, tried to get Biorkman out of his funk with words of encouragement and turning their caps around.

But nothing worked against Talarico's slicing backhand and rocket forehand, which produced winner after winner.

"I felt a little tired today, but I turned it up, I guess," Talarico said. "I didn't really feel any pressure. I felt pretty relaxed. My forehand felt good and I kept going to it."

In a heated doubles final between two Aliso Niguel teams, sophomore Jonathon Lippert and freshman Jason Mednick defeated senior Victor Carone and Chris Flynn, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). The match was plagued by racquet throwing and screams of frustration, although no penalty points were assessed to either team.

"I think that happened because none of us wanted to lose," Mednick said. "Everybody got really fired up. It was really intense."

The intensity figures to pick up even more in a few weeks. The top two singles players and doubles teams in each league advance to the Southern Section individual sectionals, May 24 at four sites throughout Southern California.

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