Sharks Boys Tennis Heading to Playoffs

Khoi Prakasim

Dillon Orian has transitioned from pulling down tough rebounds on the hard wood to hitting powerful serves on the tennis court. 

Malibu Sharks tennis coach Tim Montgomery said Orian is one of the main reasons his young squad was able to finish in third place in the Tri-Valley League and secure a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoff berth. 

“Dillon’s play has been dominate,” Montgomery said. “He got a lot better this year. He has a job hitting at the Malibu Racquet Club over the summer. Being hired as a hitter … his strokes have a lot of power and consistency. He just doesn’t really miss.”

Orian, who also played forward on the Malibu basketball team, sports about 15 individual wins for the Sharks as they head into the playoffs next week. As of press time, the Sharks had not yet been assigned an opponent.

Montgomery said the Sharks, who have a 4-5 record, are ready for the postseason. “We have to keep playing hard,” he said. “They are keeping a good balance between tennis and school and trying their best. I am really proud of them.”

Orian isn’t the Sharks only standout though. Freshmen Sharks Bennett Cohen and Fenton Markell have also excelled this year. Montgomery said the two players bring a lot of match experience — something the 20-member squad as a whole was lacking — to the Sharks. 

“They are both really strong players,” he said.

As an eighth-grader in Potomac, Md., Cohen was a highly ranked player in his class. Montgomery said Cohen has won almost all of his matches. 

“For a young guy he is an incredibly smart tennis player,” he said. “He doesn’t give points away.”

Markell, who along with senior Harrison White make up the Sharks’ No. 1 doubles team, has strong technical skills, Montgomery said.

Malibu is entering the playoffs having won two of their last three games.

The Sharks knocked off the Carpinteria Warriors on April 23 by a score of 12-6. On April 28, they ran away with the victory in their home contest against the St. Bonaventure Seraphs. Spearheaded by a couple of 6-0 individual wins by Orian, a 6-0 win by Cohen, a 6-0 win by Will Kish, and some doubles wins by White and Markell and Khoi Prakasim and Matt Morady, the Sharks jumped out to an early lead before winning 17-1.

The Sharks lost to the Cate Rams 12-6 two days later. 

Malibu began the season with two consecutive losses (11-7 to Simi Valley Pioneers, 10-8 to the Thacher Toads) before gaining its first win, 17-1 over the Sepraphs. The Sharks then beat Carpinteria for the first time this season with a score of 16-2, but then lost to Cate, 13-5. Malibu was defeated 10-8 by Thacher before they finished the regular season going 2-1.

Montgomery said Malibu is a young, talented team. “We are working hard in drills each day,” he said.