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Cougars' Nguyen Ready to Rock After a Whirlwind Weekend

May 23, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Still standing after a dizzying weekend, Capistrano Valley's Michael Nguyen pronounced himself ready for today's Southern Section Division I quarterfinal match against Los Alamitos.

"I have to admit the last thing on my mind last week was the CIF playoffs," said Nguyen, who will attend Cal. "I'll get my mind back on tennis."

Like most high school seniors this time of year, Nguyen has been preoccupied with the prom, graduation and college. Last weekend, the prom took precedence.

On Friday night, Nguyen received a surprise nomination for prom king.

"Neither of my two best friends nominated me," said Nguyen, who will be a walk-on for the Bears. "I still have no idea how it happened. I guess I'm more popular than I thought."

Nguyen, who didn't win the crown, celebrated his new-found popularity until 3:30 a.m. Five hours later, he had to report to Costa Mesa Tennis Center for the Southern Section individual championships.

"How much fun I had Friday night equals how much suffering I went through on Saturday," he said. "I was hurting pretty bad."

Nguyen won his first-round match easily, but suffered through a 6-4, 6-0 beating at the hands of Palos Verdes Peninsula's Jeff Kazarian in the third round.

"I take nothing away from Jeff," Nguyen said. "He was playing great. He really capitalized on the key points. But I was not all there."

Nguyen, who went 47-1 in dual matches this season, plans to be all there today. Capistrano Valley (17-1) will need a focused and energized Nguyen if it is going to beat the fourth-seeded Griffins (17-3), who haven't dropped a set in their two matches.

"I'm curious how it's going to turn out," Nguyen said.

So far, things have turned out pretty well for a team that lost its longtime coach, Kerry Leander, to retirement after last season's quarterfinal loss to Corona del Mar. First-year Coach Dana Bozeman came in and led the Cougars to their first South Coast League title in 17 years.

Bozeman, who played at Dana Hills, Saddleback College and Sonoma State, has been the quintessential players' coach.

"I've probably only had the same lineup four or six times," he said. "I've kind of let the guys do what they've wanted to do."

After a big victory, Bozeman rewards his guys with a trip to Swenson's ice cream parlor. The two biggest wins came over Dana Hills, the second clinched the league title.

"It's crazy that it's been 17 years," said senior doubles player Chad Whidtfeldt. "It was nice to get some closure. Nice to get that weight off our shoulders."

Whidtfeldt and his partner, junior Derek Klunchoo, were 36-0 in dual match sets. They have also reached the Southern Section individual round of 16 after winning two matches Saturday at Costa Mesa.

Bozeman said he hasn't decided if Whidtfeldt and Klunchoo will stay together against Los Alamitos.

"I've let the guys have some fun during the year, but the playoffs are my call," Bozeman said. "If we lose, I'll take the fall."


After 11 years as Valencia's boys' and girls' tennis coach, Mike McCall is quitting. McCall, 40, will stay on as a science teacher at the school.

"I want to spend more time with my two kids," said McCall, who also spent four years as an assistant coach at Valencia. "I've lost a little bit of the energy I had as a younger coach, that's age more than anything."

McCall's teams won eight Orange League titles, four boys and four girls. He never won a Southern Section title, but he came close in 1993. Valencia's girls' team, led by senior Jenny Gonzalez, lost in the Division IV finals to Pasadena Poly, 13-5.


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