BOYS TENNIS PREVIEW: Lancers aim for ‘three-peat’ Freeway League title


Rebekah Kim

Junior Brian Lemus gets ready to hit a forehand at a practice on March 3 at Sunny Hills.

Coach: Chris Ghareebo (head coach) 

Top Returning Players: Richard Lu (10), Nevin McCann (11), Owen Taylor (12), Calvin Yoo (11)

Last Season: The boys tennis team finished the 2021-2022 season with an undefeated Freeway League record (6-0) with a loss and a tie overall (14-1-1), winning its second consecutive league title along with defeating rival Troy. However, the back-to-back league champions lost to Redondo, 8-10, in the CIF-SS regional quarterfinals.  

Outlook: After moving up to CIF Division 1 at the beginning of this school year, the Lancers aim to go undefeated in the Freeway League. 

“It’s pretty amazing, considering how we were in Division 3 just 3-4 years ago, so our program has come a long way,” Ghareebo said. “[Our goal this season is] to go undefeated for a third year and achieve a three-peat, as well as prove we have the best boys tennis [team] in the league.”

To achieve its goal, some on the team said they will work on adapting to the challenges of road games, which created a problem for them last year — such as their match with Redondo Union.  

“It takes a while to get the body going, and we found ourselves in some deficits,” the coach said. “One thing I would like to work on this year is being mentally ready to go from the get-go, not starting halfway in.” 

Additionally, Ghareebo said he plans to work on minimizing small mistakes and sticking to the game plan, which he said makes the difference between a loss and a victory. 

“Now that we are in a very competitive division, a small room of error can cost us the match,” he said. “Everyone at this level has very equal skill, so it comes down to the very minute things.” 

After reflecting on the successful previous season, co-captain Taylor said he wants to focus on enhancing skills like depth and doubles. 

“Since it was a very rewarding season last year, I think it won’t be hard to motivate the team to be eager to win,” said the senior, who plays doubles with co-captain McCann. “Our doubles were super strong last year, so we should continue improving [those skills]; but we struggled last year with depth, so I’m excited to work on that.” 

McCann also said he hopes to repeat last season’s achievement along with a focus on finishing matches. 

“A lot of the time, we will come up in the lead and feel good, so we take our foot off the gas pedal, and the team beats us,” the junior said. “A big thing [Ghareebo] is enforcing is beating Troy and winning our Freeway title, which we have been doing and can be reciprocated.” 

The Lancers (current overall score 4-1) will kick off their Freeway League play at home Thursday, March 16, at 3 p.m. against La Habra (current overall score 0-5).