The Southwestern League Finals for boys tennis was filled with much excitement earlier this month for Chaparral High School, particularly on the singles side. The second day of competition brought about the semi-final rounds with number 3 seed Jonathan Rodriguez of Chaparral battling Vista Murrieta’s Michael White. White was undefeated during the season and was named the consensus number 1 seed.
During the regular season players play one set matches, but in the league finals players must go the distance in a match that contains a best of three sets, which is a more daunting level of competition. During this year’s CIF Finals the temperatures were particularly scorching, which had spectators seeking viewing spots from the scarce shade that was available.
White won the first set 7-5 and Rodriguez turned the tables in the second set, winning 6-2. At one point during the match, White had to take a medical time-out due to severe leg cramping and laid on the court for the permitted five minutes, getting a leg massage and fluids.
To White’s credit, he battled back in the third set, but at 4-4 he screamed in pain as his hand began cramping and froze in a closed position. He was unable to continue playing and was forced to retire, the hard-fought win going to Rodriguez, giving White his only loss of the year.
Rodriguez’s relief was short lived as after only a one hour break, he had to take the court for the final against the number 2 seed, Great Oak’s Josh Robbins. Rodriguez was in cruise control and raced to a 6-0 first set and then 5-0 in the second, but the drama unfolded at match point, serving at 40-15, Rodriguez fell to the court, both legs severely cramping.
After several minutes of ice, massages and fluids, he was able to get to his feet needing just one more point to win the match. His strategy at that point was to go for aces on both first and second serve, and try to win without any movement, but of course nothing was destined to come easily.
Robbins won the next point, making the score 40-30 putting Rodriquez in a must score situation, knowing he had to win now or maybe be unable to continue the match. Robbins was scrappy, determined to keep the ball in play, but after a long rally, Robbins’ last shot sailed long and Rodriguez won the league singles final.
The spectators enjoyed not only a great match but excellent sportsmanship between Rodriguez and Robbins, friends off the court, and Robbins clearly unselfishly happy for his friend’s victory. The two good-naturedly posed for pictures on the court together for friends and spectators, their mutual self respect evident.