Butts and Morkovine reign at Ojai, take D3 singles and doubles titles

Skyler Butts and Daniel Morkovine (photo Ellen Friedlander)
Skyler Butts and Daniel Morkovine (photo Ellen Friedlander)

Senior Captain Skyler Butts (Santa Ana, CA) and junior Daniel Morkovine (San Carlos, CA) defended their D3 doubles title, and Butts won his first D3 singles title at the 116th Ojai Valley Tournament which concluded on Sunday. Twelve Stags participated in the 48 singles and 24 doubles team event, which had student-athletes from nine different schools.

On Sunday, Butts defetaed teammate Lestter Yeh (Sr. - Arcadia, CA) in the first semifinal 6-4, 6-3, while Morkovine came back from a set and two break deficit to defeat teammate Glenn Hull (Jr. - Brookings, OR) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the other semifinal. To reach the final, Morkovine came back after trailing 6-2, 3-0, and then later 5-3, with Hull serving for the match. From that point, Morkovine won the next seven games before closing out the third set 6-3.

The closely contested final between the two doubles partners was the third consecutive all-Stags Ojai singles final. Butts lost in the 2015 final to Warren Wood, who had also defeated teammate Nik Marino in the 2014 final. On Sunday, Butts took an early 4-2 lead but then lost the next three games and was two points from dropping the first set at love-30 on his serve. He held and then forced a tie-break that he won 7-5. In the second set it apperaed that the senior captain might cruise to victory, as he raced out to a 4-1 lead. But Morkovine fought back yet again to even the second at 4-all, before Butts claimed the title by winning the last two games for a 7-6(5), 6-4 final score.

Butts and Morkovine defended their 2015 doubles title just an hour after the singles final, defeating Pomona-Pitzer's Graham Maassen and Spencer Simonides 6-3, 7-6(1). Butts became the first Stag to win three Ojai doubles titles, doing so in consecutive years with Neel Kotrappa in 2014, and Morkovine in 2015 and 2016. Butts is also the only Stag to win four overall titles at Ojai.

CMS' depth was on full display in both singles and doubles at Ojai. The Stags had nine players reach the Round of 16 and five reach the quarterfinals of the singles. Freshman Avi Vemuri (Portland, OR) had the tournament's biggest win, taking out Pomona-Pitzer's Jake Yasgoor in the second round. Sophomore Patrick Wildman (Cincinnati, OH) was also impressive in reaching the quarterfinals and battling teammate Hull deep into the second set before retiring due to cramps. In doubles, Butts and Morkovine defeated teammates Julian Gordy (Fr. - Tarzana, CA) and Oliver Seifert (Sr. - Los Altos, CA) in the semis. Gordy and Seifert had upset fifth seeded Yasgoor and Jon Kim in the quarters. CMS' Max Macey (Jr. - Wilton, CT) and Bryan Mehall (Sr. - Snowmass Village, CO) also reached the quarters, upsetting the 6th seeded team of Farmer and You from Whittier in the second round.

CMS plays its final dual match of the season before the SCIAC tournament when they travel to San Diego next Saturday, April 30. The Stags will face UCSD, ranked 17th in Division II, at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club starting at 2:30 PM.