Sharks boys tennis team’s winning season closes in CIF playoffs

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The Malibu Sharks boys tennis team is all smiles after defeating Northview 10-8 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. However, the Sharks would lose to Schurr in the second round. Photo by Joyce Stickney

Malibu falls to Schurr Spartans in second round, finish campaign with overall 8-7 record

The Malibu High Sharks boys tennis team’s successful season ended on May 5. 

The squad was defeated in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Boys Team Tennis Division Championships by the Schurr Spartans. The Spartans won the match on their Montebello home court 13-5. 

The Sharks defeated Northview 10-8 at home in the opening round of the postseason on May 3. 

Malibu head coach Joyce Stickney said the Sharks players supported each other throughout their 2023 campaign. The season was unusual due to the amount of matches canceled and rescheduled because of wet weather.

“They were so positive,” Stickney stated. “Sometimes it felt like we only played tennis once a week. There was a time we played three matches in three days. The boys adjusted so well. They played hard every day.” 

Malibu had an 8-7 overall record. The team finished third in the Citrus Coast League with a 7-3 record.

Senior co-captains Julian Hayman and Connor McPherson led the group. The two, noted Stickney, were consistent winners for Malibu. Last month, Hayman and McPherson finished with top-tier placements at the CIF-SS Boys Individual Sectionals in Channel Islands. Hayman finished in third place and McPherson placed fourth. 

“They were a delight to watch,” Stickney recalled. “They really put a lot into their games.” 

The coach said McPherson, known for wearing bucket hats, has a relaxed style on the court, but enjoys playing close to the net. 

“When he comes to the net, he will take a risk to put pressure on the opponent,” Stickney said. “He has a beautiful net game.” 

Hayman is always zeroed in on achieving victory, Stickney noted. 

“He is always fighting — grinding for every point,” she said. “He never gives up.” 

Malibu’s roster included Topher Hilling, Dylan Hager, Grant Pernice, Joseph Chu, Joaquin Faden, Joshua Brand, Micha Fong, Ore Porat, Solel Marques, Stephen Smith, Stevie Clarke, and Vince Carcano.

Porat and Hilling, both freshman, cemented the Sharks first round playoff victory. The duo won the deciding point in doubles play. 

Stickney said the doubles triumph was special.

“They really wanted to win,” she stated. “They were hustling and talking. They turned their game up.”

The team improved throughout the season, according to the coach.

“There was a really steep curve of learning and gaining strength in their abilities,” Stickney said. “It was impressive.”