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Cousins Enjoy a Family Affair

Boys' tennis: Sophomore Prakash Amritraj easily defeats Stephen, a freshman at Crespi, in helping Harvard-Westlake to a 16-2 victory.


STUDIO CITY — Prakash Amritraj, who recently returned from a successful tennis-playing tour of Asia, picked up another victory Friday playing much closer to home, against an opponent much closer to his heart.

Amritraj, a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake High, faced his cousin, Crespi High freshman Stephen Amritraj, in a matchup of No. 1 singles players.

For the second time this season, Prakash got the better of Stephen in helping Harvard-Westlake to a 16-2 victory in a Mission League match at Studio City Golf and Tennis.

"We've always spent a lot of time together," said Prakash, who is six months older than Stephen.

"You can't get any closer than we are. But once we step on the court, it's all business. And that's as it should be, I think."

Prakash was indeed all business while easily beating Stephen, 6-1. Prakash used a big serve and an aggressive attack at the net to take a 3-0 lead, and he never let up.

Stephen, on the other hand, suffered from an allergy most of the day and held serve only once against his cousin.

"This guy played incredible," Stephen said of Prakash. "He was playing the best I've ever seen him play, I think, serving balls at like, 150 miles an hour.

"But that's OK. I'm going over to his house tonight, and I'll beat him at basketball."

Prakash Amritraj went on to sweep his three sets, but there were no victories for Stephen.

He lost, 6-4, to Harvard-Westlake's No. 2 player, David Frankel, and then defaulted his third set because of illness after the match was already decided. Stephen was swept for the first time this season.

And Crespi (6-7, 4-3 in league play) nearly was, too.

"We're having a semi-meltdown here today," Crespi Coach Jeff Cortez said.

"It's a little disappointing. But we were off in a lot of different places today. And when you do that against a team like this, a snowball kind of turns into an avalanche."

Stephen Amritraj wasn't the only Crespi player to suffer the adverse effects of allergies.

Ray Purwadihardja, who had teamed with Carlos Gil for a 24-3 doubles record entering the match, also had breathing problems. But the Celts' No. 1 team managed to win two of three sets for Crespi's only victories.

The final result was a far cry from the teams' first meeting of the season, when Prakash Amritraj beat Stephen, 6-3, and the Wolverines escaped with a victory on games after the teams tied, 9-9, in sets.

"I think last time we took the win a little for granted," said Allan Haldeman, who teamed with Chris Shepherd for a three-set sweep at No. 2 doubles. "Today we came out fired up. It was a really encouraging day for us."

That was especially true because Harvard-Westlake (11-2, 6-1) suffered its only losses of the season against Loyola on Tuesday and San Marino on Thursday.

"This match was a little about pride," Haldeman said.

And the Wolverines played a match to be proud of.

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