Whittier boys tennis riding high in preseason
WHITTIER — A pleasant surprise to the 2020 boys tennis season has the Whittier Cardinals riding high with a 7-0-1 pre-season record, heading into Del Rio League action next week.
Whittier will begin league play against Cal next Thursday.
“I think this is just accelerating and everyone is following someone else’s lead,” Whittier boys tennis coach Jim Marilley said. “They are excited to be 7-0-1. They play with a lot of passion and play hard.”
Marilley, who is also the Whittier athletic director, first became the girls tennis coach in 2010.
He became the boys coach in 2018 through the present. He has also headed the girls program in 2018 and 2019. The girls finished second in the DRL last year.
“I’m going to try and repeat that (second place) with the boys this year,” Marilley said. La Serna won the league last year and is very strong once again.
The boys did well against three Suburban League opponents in the pre-season, defeating Bellflower and Norwalk and tied La Mirada. They also downed Paramount, Bishop Amat, Bosco Tech, Montebello and Glenn.
“We have a young team with freshmen and sophomores,” Marilley said. Leading the pack is senior singles player Martin Lusinyan.
Lusinyan, who is Lithuanian, is the No. 1 singles player and captain on the team and has mounted an impressive 20-1 record.
“He just has the ability to react to the ball,” added Marilley of his top player, who is also academically very strong. This is only his second year of tennis, as he played water polo in his junior year and is in the top two in the chess club on campus.
Lusinyan is also very athletic and is a black belt in Taekwondo.
“I think when you get a bunch of athletic guys, who are really passionate about sports, you are able to see lots of progress,” Lusinyan said. “I think a lot of our opponents underestimate us….. and maybe we’ll surprise them.”
Holding down the No. 2 singles spot is sophomore Joaquin Perkins, who has won two out of three of all of his matches to date for the team.
Perkins, whose father Kele Perkins is an AP teacher at La Serna, is a grandmaster in chess and is taking math classes at Whittier College.
The No. 3 singles player for the Cardinals is freshman rookie Trenton Gunderson.
“Trenton, who is also a soccer goalie for the Cardinals, is deceptively big and strong and has played some junior tennis,” Marilley said.
Gunderson, who played in the USTA at the age of eight, took a break in playing until just this year in high school.
“It’s great to be 7-0-1 and I love this team,” said Gunderson, who has won 18 of his 24 matches. “It’s great to be winning. We’re all young and will have three more years together.”
Gunderson is excited to begin league play but said, “……. it’s like any other match. You try your best and go out there and hope it goes your way.”
Another player who has some experience at the varsity level is freshman Landon Lacey. “Landon is a club soccer player and just picked up a tennis racket a month ago,” Marilley said. “He hasn’t lost a JV match yet and has won on varsity and is a natural.”
The No.1 doubles team is Vincent Ancich and his partner is Jeremiah Miumata. Both are sophomores and are the returning No. 1 doubles team from their freshman year. Ancich, whose father Visko is the varsity football coach, also played football last season. “They are a solid doubles team,” added Marilley.
The remainder of the team is: No. 2 Doubles – Tytan Willard/Elijah Guerrero – sophomores; No. 3 Doubles – Noah Christian, soph/Noah Escalante, Jr. and Christian Miranda, Jr. Alternates: Doubles – Angel Rodriguez, soph.
Cal High Tennis
Coach Wally Lee has a young team with two seniors, two juniors and five sophomores. Of those nine players, six are first-year varsity players.
“This year will be an exciting year of learning and development,” Lee said.
His No. 1 singles player is Marquis Lee, who has a big serve and is a spin hitter. The No. 1 doubles team is Matthew Torres, who is a solid hitter and is left-handed. His doubles partner is sophomore Noah Baldwin, who is a lefty and aggressive net player.