The Mira Costa boys tennis team gave their best shot at the top tennis teams in Southern California, but came up a bit short in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division and CIF USTA SoCal Championships.

Mira Costa was edged out 4-3 by Canyon Crest from the San Diego Section in the CIF USTA SoCal Championships in the first round on May 17 at the Claremont Club in Claremont ending their season. Mira Costa was seeded No. 4 and Canyon Crest No. 5.

It was the second year in a row the tennis team competed at the highest level of high school tennis in the state.

“It's always special to get into the State Regional Playoff,” said Mira Costa boys tennis head coach Joe Ciasulli. “The Claremont Club is such an iconic tennis venue; never get tired of playing there.”  

Mira Costa’s Matthew Poh, senior, was one its top players.

“It was exciting playing at Claremont with the eight best teams in the SoCal Regionals,” Poh said. “We lost in a close match against Canyon Crest who we beat earlier in the year, so it was disappointing not to advance to the next round.”

Mira Costa had the edge in singles for the most part, but needed more.

“The format was straight up. Me, Kyle (Sillman), Poh all won in straight sets,” said Mira Costa junior Tim Dzhurinskiy. “It was a close match at the No. 4 singles spot. Their doubles were too good.”

Asked if he felt added pressure of playing in the state tournament, Dzhurinskiy said, “High school tennis is fun for me. It’s a place I can play with no pressure and can play loose all the time. Really fun with all the funny and supportive guys on the team. Can’t wait for next year.”

Outside of Torrey Pines and Harvard Westlake, which played for the title with Torrey Pines winning 4-3 the following day, and University who was seeded No. 1 and won the CIF-Southern Section Open Division title, Mira Costa was the next best team.

In fact, Mira Costa beat the winner of the USTA NorCal Championships, Bellarmine, earlier in the season.

“As I see it, we're really No. 4 in Southern California behind University, Harvard-Westlake and Torrey Pines,” Ciasulli said. “Those top three teams are really good and we would need the stars to align for us to have a chance to beat them.”

Mira Costa finished with a 19-3 overall record, with just one loss in the regular season.

“We had a great season and as a senior, some of the highlights for me were repeating as Bay League champions, making it to the CIF-SS semifinals open division and being champions of the Bay Area Classic Tennis tournament," said Poh, who is going to play in college.

This year’s team excelled in some areas last year’s team did not, but they were pretty equal. The two best years ever at Mira Costa for boys’ tennis.

“Both seasons were very similar but last year was one of firsts,” Ciasulli said. “First team to win the Bay League outright, first team to reach the CIF semifinals, first team with five victories over teams ranked in the top 10 of CIF-SS Division 1, first team with a No. 3 ranking in Southern California at one time during the season, and first team with a No. 4 ranking in the final poll.”

This year’s team is also ranked No. 4 in the poll.

“This year's team did all of that again but also won the Bay Area Classic, defeating Bellarmine Prep in the process, the team that just won the NorCal CIF Championship,” Ciasulli pointed out.   

Even though they did not win the big prize, the players know just how good they are now.

“Being one of the best teams in SoCal is a great accomplishment,” Dzhurinskiy said.

Against Canyon Crest, Dzhurinskiy won 6-1 and 6-3; Poh won 6-2 and 6-3; and Sillman won 6-4 and 6-4.

“We were close in No. 4 singles losing 6-4, 6-4 and No. 3 doubles losing 6-4, 7-6(3), but couldn't win either one,” Ciasulli said.

The week before on Wednesday, May 8, Mira Costa had advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals and met tennis power University, which moved on to the championship after a 11-6 home victory over the Mustangs.

One set was not played due to time restraints.

Dzhurinskiy won two sets 6-1, 6-0 in singles; Poh won one set 7-6(2) and Sillman won one set 7-5.

Mira Costa picked up two more points in doubles with Ethan Han/Max Weulfing winning two sets 6-4, 6-0. 

“It was tough losing to University in the CIF-SS semifinals, they are a very deep team and they ended up being the CIF winners," Poh said.

Mira Costa hopes to keep it momentum going during next year's tennis season.

“Matthew Poh and Kyle Sillman are sadly leaving to play college tennis next year, but I am positive that the younger kids will look up to their legacy next year and play up to their level,” said Dzhurinskiy, who will be one of the top returning players.

The players on this year’s team were: Matthew Poh, Kyle Sillman, Tim Dzhurinskiy, Tanner Chen, Max Wuelfing, Laszlo Solnicki, Noah Gonalons, Trent Porter, Ethan Han, Kyle Chen, Nick Darrow and Kelly Giese.

Assisting Ciasulli were assistant coaches Allen Yap and Mark McGuire.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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