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High Schools | BOYS' TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

From Start to the Finish, It Was Stewart's Season

June 23, 2002|LAUREN PETERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Doug Stewart is intrigued by mathematics and science and takes the same clinical approach to excelling at tennis as he does to studying those subjects.

Hence, the recent incorporation of yoga into his weekly regimen of physical fitness and mental discipline.

"I've heard from a lot of people that it would really help me with my tennis," Stewart said, "and I figured it can't hurt."

He hopes yoga class, which he alternates each day with weightlifting, will increase his flexibility and balance. But the strength, speed and stamina that Stewart already possesses and the power and pace of his shots make the Malibu High senior a formidable player.

Stewart was the hottest player on the high school scene all year.

He won the singles and doubles titles at the Easter Bowl/U.S. Tennis Assn. Super National Spring Championships in April. He won the CIF Boys' Interscholastic singles title at the 102nd Ojai Valley tournament two weeks later and rolled through the high school season undefeated until he lost in three sets to Chris Surapol of Cerritos Whitney in the Southern Section individual tournament championship match.

In recognition of his stellar season, Stewart has been selected The Times' boys' tennis player of the year.

"It's a great feeling [to win]," Stewart said. "When you're playing that well, you just go with it and see how long you can make it last."

The 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 loss to Surapol was the only blemish on Stewart's 63-1 record and one of the few times he struggled during a season in which he dominated almost everyone. Stewart went unbeaten and won the Southern Section title as a junior.

"What Doug accomplished was just amazing," Malibu Coach John McCampbell said. "I hadn't seen him lose in almost three years."

Stewart, who had a match point in the second set against Surapol, was trying to become the first player to win consecutive section singles titles since Redlands' Richard Bohrnstedt in 1967 and '68.

"There's no excuse [for the loss]," Stewart said. "He just played too well."

That's what opposing players usually said about Stewart, who will attend Virginia on a tennis scholarship.

"The key is to have an answer for whatever your opponent is doing," Stewart said.

He almost always did.

"He's really the consummate professional athlete at a very young age," McCampbell said. "His conditioning, diet, he takes it very seriously.

"And he handles himself the same way. He could be losing 3-1 or winning 5-0, and I really couldn't tell."

Except that usually, he was winning.

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