La Cañada Closing In on League Tennis Title

Photo by Mitch Lehman/Outlook Valley Sun
Ben Lee and his doubles partner Jack Manion picked up a key win as the Spartans defeated San Marino last week.

Will Moravec has been the coach of the La Cañada High School boys’ varsity tennis team since 1991, so it’s safe to say he has gathered a fair amount of experience in the local racquet scene. If any doubts about his pedigree existed, they were erased recently while discussing the Spartans’ current circumstances.
“I subscribe to the theory of never counting your chickens until they hatch,” the effervescent Moravec said with an accompanying laugh.
To further the animal imagery, Moravec and his players currently find themselves in the catbird’s seat of the Rio Hondo League tennis race following a rare victory last Thursday over perennial champions San Marino. And due to the pandemic-abbreviated season, the Spartans and Titans will not face off again unless they meet in the CIF playoffs.
But last week, it was all La Cañada, as Ryan Morgan, Lance Morgan and Luke Kim dominated the singles action, winning seven of the nine individual matches to lead the way. The doubles team of Luke Manion and Konan Sahara won two of its three matches and the duo of Ben Lee and Jack Manion grabbed another to secure the 10-8 victory. Though they didn’t win a set, the doubles team of Derek Ahn and Dylan Lu won 10 games in their three matchups, which might have come in handy had the match come down to a tiebreaker accounting of total games won.
It’s only the second time in Moravec’s 31-year tenure that the Spartans have topped the Titans, the most recent taking place in 2010. Moravec has seen that movie many times and, too often for the Spartans, it’s a horror flick. The longtime mentor saw another one coming until the Spartans eventually took control.
“I was getting nervous because every time we won a singles match, San Marino won a doubles match,” Moravec said. “San Marino placed a lot of their better players in doubles and they were really tough. Going into the last round, I knew if we had the nine matches we would win on games…but you never know. Ben and Jack were the ones who gave us that ninth point. They sealed the deal.”
All that stands between the Spartans and their first Rio Hondo League boys’ varsity tennis championship since 1984 is next Thursday’s match against Temple City, a team the Titans play today.
“I had sweaty palms,” Moravec said, referencing the match against the Titans. “Because of COVID and the schedule change, it was one-and-done with San Marino. If we lost that match we lost the league championship. Now I know how football coaches feel, playing only once a year against opposing teams.”