TPHS boy’s tennis defeats La Jolla Country Day

The TPHS Falcons boys varsity tennis team trounced the La Jolla Country Day School Torreys 11-7 in their first round of Open Division CIFs on April 18.

As Coach Abby Bacharach began peeling off the metal seal from the can of balls moments before the game, the air around the Falcons was already thick with tension. The boys huddled around for their pre-game traditional chant — a caveman-like, guttural “huh” that grows louder and louder as they sway their bodies side to side. An honorary senior stands in the middle.

“We are TP!” he interjects. “One, two, three…”

Their voices join together in unison for the last part: “Falcons!”

The boys break up and head to their respective courts: Robert Freedman (11) first singles, Nico Bohrer (12) at second and Donatas Chachisvilis (12) at third. Each boy will play one six-game set against each of the top three singles players at LJCDS.

Freedman was expected to have a decently difficult first-round match against LJCDS’ top player. The Torreys, however, utilized a somewhat unexpected and fruitless strategy of having their best player play at number two, thus facing off against Bohrer first and Freedman only second.

Though outmatched ranking-wise, Bohrer put up a good fight, employing a variety of unconventional shots from slices to net game, trying to throw him off. He lost 3-6, but his classy attitude was a win for the Falcons.

Freedman cruised through his first round with a 6-0 win over the Torreys’ number two player, while Chachisvilis, nursing a shoulder injury that obstructed his ability to serve, scraped by with a 6-4 victory.

Bohrer and Chachisvilis both lamented the fact that many of the Falcons top players were absent from CIFs due to illnesses, injuries and more.

“We have some of the best talent, but we’re struggling a bit because they are gone,” Bohrer said.

Their fears were not without substance — what should have been an easy win for the Falcons actually came pretty tight.

At the end of the first round the Falcons were leading 4-2, after a number one 6-4 doubles win by Anirudha Rajesh Rao (11) and Daniel Shafer (12), and a 6-1 win by Robert Kleege (10) and Alejandro Astiz (9). Third doubles, Jeffrey Xia (12) and Evan Zeichner (10), though, suffered a 1-6 defeat.

“You caught us on our worst day,” Zeichner said.

Moving into the second round, Freedman’s match against LJCDS’ top player got off to a rocky 0-3 start. Freedman struggled to get his lefty forehand angled enough to his opponent’s weaker backhand, and so he was able to attack consistently and deeply with his forehand. The fight, however, was long from over. With determination and lots of self-talk, Freedman was able to come back and win the match 6-4, his wonky sidespin and extreme consistency annoying his opponent to his wit’s end.

At first doubles, Rao and Shafer were trailing behind LJCDS’ second doubles, a match-up that should not have caused them as much trouble as it did. Though Rao and Shafer had nice hands at the net and balanced chemistry, their sporadic double faults and plentiful shanks led to a loss of 5-7. Bohrer won his second round 6-0 and Chachisvilis lost 3-6. Xia and Zeichner dropped another set while Kleege and Astiz bageled their opponents, bringing the second-round score to 3 all. Though the Falcons remained ahead at 7-5 total, the tied second round brought heightened anxiety.

Coach Bacharach, however, remained cool and collected. 

Though technically an individual sport, the boys’ bond and support of each other is what led to their 4-2 finish in the final round. Though Bohrer and Chachisvilis lost their last singles, Freedman clinched a 6-0 win. The Falcons finished off with a full doubles sweep to seal the deal.

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