NEWPORT BEACH — In football, Newport Harbor High usually trumps its Back Bay rival Corona del Mar.
In tennis, the edge usually goes to the Sea Kings. They've won the Battle of the Bay rivalry match over the last five years, with scores ranging from 12-6 to 17-1.
CdM Coach Brian Ricker said he was missing one of his top singles players, freshman Carson Williams, in Thursday's match. Williams was getting his wisdom teeth pulled.
His CdM teammates needed no Novocain as they triumphed, 14-4, at Newport Harbor High.
"It's always fun, especially considering in football they always gloat and everything," said CdM junior Alex Murray. "But it's always fun just to be here."
Murray easily swept with his partner at No. 1 doubles, senior Carter Wheatley. The returning doubles team from a year ago won by set scores of 6-0, 6-0, 6-1, and is undefeated in six sets so far this young season.
"In doubles it's huge if you know your partner well," Wheatley said. "We know what each other can and cannot do, the good stuff and the bad stuff. So we're just looking at this year really positively."
Seniors Ismaen Aboubakare and Zach Huber won a pair of sets at No. 2 doubles before they were subbed out. Joel Ishii and Andrew Nguyen, as well as the sub team of Nelson Chen and Alex Morrison, each won sets at No. 3 doubles for CdM (2-0).
Coach Brian Ricker also has a strong singles lineup anchored by Georgetown-bound senior Shane Korber, Williams and Alec Adamson, a sophomore transfer from Illinois. Williams is a five-star recruit for his age according to Tennisrecruiting.net; Korber and Adamson both swept against Newport Harbor.
"He changes the pace and he's such a fighter," Ricker said of Adamson. "He's what I'd call the perfect No. 3 player. His game is going to frustrate people. He keeps the ball in play. So you go from Shane ripping the ball, to Alec with 'slice and dice' and Carson plays more of a traditional style. It's good for a high school team to have that combination."
The Sea Kings also received a substitute win at No. 3 singles by senior Harrison Martell.
Newport Harbor Coach Kristen Case is rarely discouraged, and she wasn't after Thursday's match. Seniors Greg Brostek and Craig McKennon won two of three sets at No. 1 doubles for the Sailors (1-1). Seniors Jason Cernius and Fred Matz each won a singles set.
Matz is an exchange student from Sweden who is living on Lido Isle with his host family, Sid and Susan Crossley. He has fit right in on the Sailors' squad, Case said. He looked at home on the courts wearing a Dodgers baseball cap and even exchanged some words in Swedish with Korber after their singles match.
"He's so fresh to this high school tennis scene that he doesn't know the other players, he doesn't know the other teams," Case said. " It's all new to him, which in a sense is nice, because there's no fear of anybody. For him, it's just 'Let's go out and play some tennis.' And he's really stepped it up. I think it's been a couple of years since he's picked up a racket, so he's really getting into his groove again. It's really fun to watch."
Cernius and Troy Arnold won the Sunset League doubles title last year, but Case had them both in singles Thursday. She said with just four returning starters, she's trying to "feel it out" and see where the Sailors are at as a team.
The Sailors' goal is to win the team league title for the second time in three years. Corona del Mar would also love to win league, a tough task with defending Division I champion University in the league plus newcomer Woodbridge.
It's still the early season, but both teams feel like they can get there.
"If we can get all three doubles teams playing well then I think we'll have a good season," Ricker said.