Javier Callejo knows what it's like to play a plethora of tennis matches to reach a California Community College Athletic Association state final.
Callejo, the defending state CCCAA Men's Tennis singles champion from Irvine Valley, won two singles matches on Saturday at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club to return to the state final. The No. 9 seed will meet No. 6 Vincent Reynaud of Cypress in an All-Orange Empire Conference final on Sunday at Libbey Park at 11 a.m.
Callejo swept top-seeded Cody Duong of American Rive,r 6-1, 6-2 in his 8 a.m. quarterfinal, then overcame a 4-1 first-set deficit to beat his doubles partner, sophomore Lucas Lesoeur of France, 7-5, 6-4, in the semifinals.
Callejo broke the hard-serving Lesoeur's serve four times in the match and took a 5-4 lead on the fourth break. Callejo served for the match and took a 40-15 advantage on a blazing forehand to the back line. At 40-30, Lesoeur mishit a ball long and left.
"I'm playing really good right now," said Callejo, a sophomore from Madrid, Spain who upset Nos. 8, 4, 7, 2 and 1 to win last year's state championship. "I'm surprised that my forehand is working that well. It didn't work as well in the regular season. I've worked hard to try and come here and give my best again this year.
"Now I know how everything works and I didn't come in so nervous like I did last year. I'm more relaxed and I come in with a different attitude."
The Orange Empire Conference showed its domination with seven of the eight quarterfinalists from either Irvine Valley or Cypress. Irvine Valley had a player in all four quarterfinal matches and they faced Cypress in three of those.
Lesoeur, the 7th seed from IVC, outlasted No. 2 Maximilien Blancaneaux of Cypress 7-5, 7-6 (5) in an emotional affair that featured many screams of confidence from the players. Reynaud topped No. 3 freshman Wyatt DeMulling of IVC 7-6 (4), 7-5 and freshman lefty Chris Politiek, the 11th seed from IVC, rallied past No. 12 Thomas Kyle of Cypress 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4.
Irvine Valley, which won its third straight State Team Championship on Wednesday, had three players in the semifinals. Reynaud beat Politiek 6-2, 6-2 to prevent an all-IVC singles final.
The Lasers won the Triple Crown last year, taking the State team title plus the singles and doubles championships.
Callejo and Lesoeur, seeded No. 2 in doubles, rejoined forces to win their 3 p.m. quarterfinal over No. 13 Grady Harrell-Theirry Van Os of Riverside 6-1, 6-1.
Reynaud also advanced to Sunday's doubles semifinals at 8 a.m. He and Blancaneaux are seeded No. 3 and they knocked off No. 5 DeMulling-Politiek of IVC in a marathon, 6-4, 5-7, 10-5 in the super tiebreaker.
Story and results courtesy of Dave Loveton - Santa Barbara City College Sports Information