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April 27, 2014

Stags shine in Ojai, capture singles and doubles crowns

Five Stags reached finals at the 114th Ojai Valley Tournament on Sunday, with Warren Wood (Jr. - Del Mar, CA) capturing the D3 singles title, and the team of Skyler Butts (So. - Santa Ana, CA) and Neel Kotrappa (Sr. - La Verne, CA) taking home the D3 doubles championship. Junior Nik Marino (San Diego, CA) reached the D3 singles final, while freshman Rohan Shankar (San Jose, CA) was a singles finalist in the Independent College event.

As the top seed in the 48 player singles draw, Wood began his five-match march to victory with straight set wins on Friday and Saturday. He surrendered two, five, and three games in his first three matches before taking on teammates Butts in the semis and Marino in the championship match. In both matches on Sunday at Libbey Park, Wood started and finished well, winning the opening and decisive sets with an aggressive all-court attack. His singles record improves to 25-4 overall and 4-1 in three-set matches.

Marino, Butts, and freshman Max Macey (Wilton, CT) all had significant wins in the singles draw. Marino defeated UC Santa Cruz's Max Littlejohn (ranked #16 in the West), Cal Lu's Moises Cardenas (#2 in the West), and Whittier's David Konstantinov (#5 in the West) to reach the final. Butts defeated Cal Lutheran's Alex Nichols (#15 in the West) and Redlands' Patrick Lipscomb (#3 in the West) before falling to Wood in the semis. Macey's two tournament victories included a three-set win over Pomona-Pitzer's Chris Wiechert (#7 in the West) in the second round.

In the Independent College event, CMS' Shankar was awarded a spot in the draw as an alternate, and then made the most of his opportunity. Shankar won four matches - two against players from Biola and two against players from Pomona-Pitzer - including a three-set win over the top seed in the quarters. His 6-1, 7-5 loss to second seeded Josh Barnard of Westmont, was Shankar's first loss in nine matches this season.

In the D3 doubles event, Butts and Kotrappa faced more formidable challenges in their four-match title run. After an opening round victory against Redlands' #1 team, Butts and Kotrappa found themselves down a match point in the quarters to Cal Lutheran's top pair. A Butts topspin lob winner at 6-7, 30-40 kept them in the match, which they would take three games and a tie-break later. Their 8-6 semifinal win over UC Santa Cruz's #2 team set up the championship match with Whittier's Konstantinov and Chris Schommer, who had defeated two CMS teams - Daniel Morkovine (Fr. - San Carlos, CA) and Lestter Yeh (So. - Arcadia, CA) as well as Wood and Joe Dorn (Jr. - Washington D.C.) - en route to the final.

In the final, Butts and Kotrappa needed a break of serve at 5-4 down to stay in the first set. After breaking and then holding for 6-5, they broke again to win the first 7-5. Trailing 3-1 in the second set, CMS' #2 team then won five straight games to take the title. Butts and Kotrappa improve to 19-1 on the season, with their only loss coming against UCLA on March 27.

This is the first time in program history that CMS has won both the Ojai D3 singles and doubles titles in the same year. Wood is the third Stag to hoist the singles trophy, following Alex Lane in 2011 and Lawrence Wang in 2009. Butts and Kotrappa are the fifth doubles team to win the Ojai D3 title. Lane and Robbie Erani won at the 112th Ojai in 2012. Brandon Wei and Eric MacColl were doubles champions in 2010, Wang and Gui Schils won as freshman in 2006, and John Michael Cham-A-Koon and Kyle Ellison took the title in 2004. The first pair to represent CMS as Ojai doubles champions were Tim Cooley and Ramsey Gerber in 1994.

Next up for the Stags is the SCIAC tournament hosted by Cal Lutheran. Play begins on Friday at 9:30 AM, with top seeded CMS taking on #8 Caltech. The Stags will face either #4 Redlands or #5 Whittier in the the afternoon match beginning at 2:00 PM.