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High Schools | BOYS' TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Das Ends Up With a Net Gain

Troy senior's match record of 67-2 helps soothe the pain of losing in Southern Section individual singles semifinals.

June 19, 2003|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

When Jeffrey Das lost in the singles semifinals of the Southern Section individual tournament, he was angry, disappointed and a little embarrassed.

"For four days afterward, I didn't pick up a racket," he said. "I was too upset to."

Das' devastation was evident as he made a hurried exit from the court after a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Corona del Mar High senior Garrett Snyder on May 31. Dejected, he sat alone in the family car for a while, then went for a walk outside the Sea Cliff Tennis Club grounds in Huntington Beach before being corralled and consoled by three friends who had just arrived, too late to see Das lose in the semifinals because they never expected it to happen.

"They showed up late," Das said. "They thought I was going to win and be playing in the championship match."

So did Das, a Fullerton Troy senior who set high expectations for himself and accomplished nearly every one during an outstanding season that has earned him recognition as The Times' boys' tennis player of the year.

"It was a good season. I thought I did really well, except for the end," Das said. "I wanted to try to go undefeated."

Along with his semifinal showing in the section tournament, he settled instead for a not-so-shabby 67-2 record in matches, including a 54-0 mark in round-robin, dual-match sets in high school competition.

With his help, Troy (29-3) won its first boys' tennis title, beating Palm Desert, 11-7, in the Division II final match of the section team playoffs. The Warriors lost to Irvine University in last year's title match and advanced to the semifinals in Das' freshman and sophomore years.

"It's been a fun run for him," Coach George Vallance said. "He just adds so much to our team. Other coaches realize the kind of force he is, and it just changes the dynamics of a match."

Das also won the Ojai tournament's CIF Interscholastic division championship and placed fifth in the Easter Bowl/U.S. Tennis Assn. Super National Championships' boys' 18-and-under division in April.

He combined a tireless work ethic with a counter-punching style that featured a devastating forehand and a steady backhand to gain the upper hand in most of his matches.

The 5-foot-9 Das gave himself an edge after last season.

He began a workout regimen last summer that has helped him drop 20 pounds and reach his current weight of 140. Noticeably lighter on his feet now, he attributes improved speed, quickness, flexibility and stamina to the weight loss.

"It was big because I got a lot quicker and stronger. I could stay in the points longer, and I could just last longer as matches wore on out there," he said.

Das, who will play at the University of San Diego next year, spends at least two hours a day on the court, and goes to the gym or on conditioning runs every other day to maintain his weight.

"Some things I do because it's fun, and some I do because I know I'll get better, and I like to compete," Das said.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

THE TIMES' ALL-STAR BOYS' TENNIS TEAM

*--* PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jeffrey Das, Sr Troy FIRST TEAM Singles Jack Li, Sr Irvine University Pacific Coast League singles champion posted a 31-4 record and reached quarterfinals of Southern Section individual tournament, where he lost to eventual champion Gary Sacks Gary Sacks, So Calabasas Frontier League champion played sparingly but had a 26-0 record in regular-season sets and became Calabasas' first Southern Section boys' singles champion Garrett Snyder, Sr Corona del Mar Finished 69-2 in sets and was Southern Section runner-up to Sacks. Was the only player to defeat Das and was an Ojai tournament Interscholastic division semifinalist Doubles Nick Kogan, Sr.-Dan Escobedo, So El Camino Real Duo finished with a 17-0 record, won City Section individual doubles title and advanced to round of 16 at Ojai James Thayer, Sr.-Sam Wagner, So Harvard-Westlake Won Mission League title, Ojai Interscholastic division title and were Southern Section runners-up Chase Muller, Sr.-Kerry Wheeler, Jr Santa Barbara Stalwarts on an injury-riddled team, they advanced to quarterfinals at Ojai and semifinals in Southern Section tournament Coach of the Year: Jim Ball, Redondo A veteran of 32 years, Ball, along with assistant Ricardo Aburto, guided the unheralded Seahawks (24-1) to a Southern Section final for the first time. Redondo, the Division IV runner-up to Brentwood, finished undefeated in Ocean League play SECOND TEAM Singles Chip Hand, Sr Fairmont Prep Eric McKean, Sr Brentwood Jason Mossembekker, Sr Camarillo Kaes Van't Hof, Jr Santa Margarita Doubles Scott Hohenstein, So.-Ryan Sandburg, So Anaheim Canyon Nick Berger, So.-Andrew Gerst, So Redondo Edward Mendoza, Sr.-Edwin Mendoza, Sr Troy

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