MBL Champs fall 7-0 in first round of CCS Playoffs to Gunn
GILROY – It was almost not fair.

The Gilroy High boys tennis team, full of heart and hustle, tried and tried to battle against No. 6 seed Gunn High, full of talent and skills far beyond any opponents the Mustangs faced in the MBL, in the first round of the Central Coast Section Playoffs.

But all the desire and determination in the world could barely slow the inevitable – a 7-0 Gilroy loss, ending the MBL Champions’ post-season before they even batted an eye.

“Basically, they are really good,” said junior No. 4 singles Mark Heisy of the Gunn players. “That just shows how bad our league is compared to the other leagues.”

While the Mustangs (12-1 in MBL, 12-3 overall) had to fight and claw every step of the way to win their league championship, Gunn High did not win a league title nor did its record (13-8 overall following Wednesday’s win) reflect how good its players were. But a difference in league competition was very apparent by day’s end.

“No hard feelings,” said junior Robbie Marques, after dropping his No. 3 singles bout to Gunn’s Mike Sun, 0-6, 2-6. “We kind of expected this.”

Up against their stiffest competition all season long, (similar to their 7-0 non-league loss to Aptos at mid-season) the Mustangs fell one by one.

But it was not so hard to swallow since the Gilroy players as well as first-year head coach Chris Yoder were just happy to be in the position they were.

“That was not the way we wanted to go out,” said senior No. 2 singles Mike Campos, who bowed down to Gunn’s Shane Templeman in straight sets, 1-6, 0-6. “(This season) was much better than we expected it to be. Before the season started, we were just wondering how many wins we would get.”

12 wins. 12 MBL wins and a league title is what this brave bunch will remember. And most of the starting line-up will be back next year.

“I’m going to be working in the off-season everyday,” said junior No. 1 singles Jacob Pniewski, who was overmatched in his 0-6, 0-6 loss to Gunn’s Alex Linares. “We’re coming back strong next year (and) Pniewski will be No. 1 next year.”

In the No. 4 singles bout, Heisy made the biggest push for a Gilroy ‘W’ – winning the first three games against Gunn’s Dan Silverman. Heisy, however, did not take another game – falling in straight sets, 3-6, 0-6.

“He was missing some shots early. I was a lot more aggressive. Once I got the lead, I starting thinking too much and not hitting the ball hard. I was popping it up,” said Heisy, not discouraged at all by the outcome. “We beat Monterey. That’s all that matters.”

Twice this season the Mustangs topped arch rival Monterey. For them, that was the championship.

In the top two singles bouts, Pniewski and Campos both felt the wrath of some big-time power serves.

“The first time I got it I was literally afraid of it,” Campos said. “It was the hardest serve I’ve ever had to face.”

Pniewski, who is determined to be back with a vengeance next year, added: “You can’t win tennis matches if you can’t keep your returns on the court. I hung with him with rallies and hit some winners. I got my racket on it every time.”

The coveted Gilroy doubles teams were out of luck as well. The top duo of senior Tim Gallardo and Scott Denman went right at Gunn’s Erin Norgren and Jafrin Delaney – but lost in the end, 3-6, 2-6.

“They had pretty good serves, good strokes and good fundamentals of the game. We had to hit good shots to get a point from them,” said Denman, who enjoyed his final season of Gilroy High tennis. “This season was a lot of fun. The whole team is a bunch of fun guys… We’re always laughing.”

In the other two doubles bouts, Gilroy’s No. 2 tandem of Tomas Carrillo and Ray Rivera faltered 2-6, 1-6 to Gunn’s Frankie Draeger and Sunjay DoDani, while the No. 3 pair of Daniel Carrillo and Mark Hsieh lost a 1-6, 2-6 decision to Tim Lee and Eris Lo.

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