The Malibu Sharks tennis team lost 10-8 in a round-robin tournament Wednesday, April 2, against the Oak Park Eagles.
Senior Gabe Rapaport won all three of his matches against his opponents, only losing four out of 18 total games. His first match was against his rival David Goulak, and this was Rapaport’s first win against him in high school play.
“David and I are best friends, pretty much,” Rapaport said. “We hit together all the time and we play doubles together. It was a good win for me.”
Rapaport felt his win against Goulak could have gone either way.
“We were on serve for the whole match,” Rapaport said. “At 5-4, I was able to break him, and I made a couple of lucky shots, but it’s always so tough with Dave.”
Sharks head coach Todd Montgomery said it was good that Rapaport was able to finally beat Goulak after losing to him in the past.
“That’s nice that Gabe got to get that match back,” Montgomery said.
Dillan Orian also had a strong outing in singles play, winning two of his three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Will Kish struggled during his matches, however, losing all three.
Kish’s final set against Jack Berner went down to a tiebreaker, but Kish hit a ball into the net on the final rally, sealing the 7-6 victory for Berner.
Despite Kish’s losses, Montgomery was pleased with his play.
“Even though he lost all three [matches], he competed better than he has all season so far against a tough team,” Mongomery said. “His mental toughness and his competitive focus is improving.”
Montgomery thinks his team is getting better, even though they may be lacking in the age department.
“This year, we have a very young team,” Montgomery said. “[There are] a lot of ninth and 10th graders that don’t have that much competitive experience, so they’re just really learning. There’s a lot of improvement and some of the younger guys are really learning to win and getting better and better.”
In doubles play, the tandem of Harrisen White and Jesse Weinstein notched victories in all of their matches (6-4, 6-1, 6-2), but the other two doubles pairs were unable to win any of their sets.
Rapaport continuously cheered for and encouraged his teammates throughout the afternoon, even while in the middle of a game. The team aspect is why he keeps playing high school tennis, Rappaport said.
“I want our guys to do well and I think they’re getting better every day,” Rapaport said.
Montgomery said that at this point in the season, his has begun to hit its stride, a trend he has seen in recent years.
“Last year was kind of similar where, in the second half of the season, they’re competing better, they’re mentally sharper and their strokes are just more consistent,” Montgomery said.
After the spring break holiday, Malibu has two more matches to play before gearing up for the CIF playoffs. Montgomery said those games should prepare the Sharks for the fiercer postseason competition.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep the motivation high so that when we get into the qualifying round of CIF, we’ll be ready to face tougher teams,” Montgomery said.
The Sharks will travel to Nordhoff High School for a road match against the Rangers on April 22.