NO. 1: Schurr’s Matthew Lin is Boys Tennis player of the Year. (Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)
DAILY NEWS ALL-AREA BOYS TENNIS TEAM
Player of the Year - Matthew Lin, Schurr
Coach of the Year - Cindy Lippstreu, El Rancho
Jeffrey Bui, Santa Fe
J.R. Mercado, El Rancho
Mark Gazmen/Diego Garcia, Santa Fe
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
MONTEBELLO - Back in March, Schurr High School’s Matthew Lin didn’t begin the season as the top boys tennis player in the area.
But there was no doubt by season’s end.
The junior was nearly unbeatable throughout the regular season, losing just once, won the Almont League singles title and was the only area competitor to advance to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section individual championships.
For his efforts, Lin is the Daily News’ Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
The junior is joined on the All-Area team by singles players Jeffrey Bui, of Santa Fe, R.J. Mercado, of El Rancho, and the Santa Fe doubles team of Mark Gazmen and Diego Garcia.
El Rancho’s Cindy Lippstreu is Coach of the Year.
“The main thing for me was consistency,” Lin said. “I was more solid on my strokes. My serve got better and my backhand was more solid than last year.
“I think all my hard work really paid off this year. At (the individual championships), I gave a good effort. My opponent was really good, but I played well against him. All that hard work paid off.”
It showed throughout the season for Lin, who went 38-3, losing just one set during the regular season before dropping a round in the team playoffs and his second-round loss in the CIF-SS individual tournament.
He won the league title by beating Alhambra’s Brendan Ma in the championship match.
“It felt really good, because I was down the first set and was able to come back,” Lin said. “It was more satisfying this year. The competition was a lot tougher. The guy I played in the final got better, as did my opponent in the semifinals. This was really satisfying.”
Lin helped the Spartans to a third-place finish in the Almont League before going 1-1 in the CIF-SS Division 4 team playoffs, which ended with a 10-8 setback to No. 2 seed Laguna Beach.
Lin then wrapped up his season at the CIF-SS individual championship. He beat Maranatha’s Randall Hsieh, the No. 2 player from the Olympic League, in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, before dropping in two sets (6-2, 6-4) to Del Rey League champion Errol Smith, of Bishop Montgomery.
“This (season) gave me a lot of confidence,” Lin said. “It was a really good year.”
The same can be said for El Rancho, which Lippstreu guided to the Del Rio League championship. The Dons went 10-0 in league play before losing, 11-7, to South El Monte in the second round of the Division 5 playoffs. El Rancho opened the bracket with a 13-5 victory over Valley View in the first round.
“I read (a book written by former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz) during the (winter break) and I told (the team) from day one that we’re going to win the league,” Lippstreu said. “They believed me the whole time, and we won the league.
“The players were awesome. They challenged each other every day in practice and in the matches. It was a good group to work with.”
Bui was the top singles player in the Del Rio League. He beat Mercado in the league championship match before losing to Henry La Soya, of Pasadena Poly, in the first round at the CIF-SS tournament.
Mercado also advanced to the tournament, losing to Arroyo’s Sam Ho in the first round.
Gazmen and Garcia won the Del League doubles championship before losing in the first round at the CIF-SS individual tournament.