The fourth annual Santa Barbara High Individual Doubles Tournament kicked off play Friday across three locations: Santa Barbara High, Knowlwood Tennis Club in Montecito, and Las Positas Tennis Center in Elings Park.
The tournament features 32 individual teams across seven schools, Viewpoint, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, Arroyo Grande, Redwood (Marin), De La Salle (Concord), and hosts Santa Barbara.
There are four different flights based on the rankings of each individual pair.
Last season in Channel League play, San Marcos took home the crown. With a much deeper roster in 2020, however, DP hopes to take charge.
San Marcos and Dos Pueblos each sent one pair to the top A flight, with the rest of the local Santa Barbara schools mainly playing across the other three.
That meant a good amount of DP’s depth, in the form of its No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams, took part in Flight B over at Las Positas Tennis Center in Elings Park, and both pairs looked extremely confident in their wins.
First, the No. 2 pair comprised of Keaton Cross and Nikhil Gupta dropped one game en route to a 6-1, 6-0 win.
“I think we played really well today,” Gupta told the News-Press after the win.
“Our serves were a key point in winning our games. We really guided the game with our mental focus against other teams and it’s important to keep that mentality now and throughout the season.”
The match was equally important for Cross, who as a freshman, saw his first varsity action this season. The Chargers defeated Carpinteria a few days ago, but no varsity players took part in the victory.
“Today is really important for just getting comfortable playing with your partner. Obviously, we already know each other and we have played with each other at practice but having a chance, even if it’s just an easy match, to get that experience is important,” Cross said.
The other doubles pair for DP also looked impressive, as Daniel Troung and Andy Yang won 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the second round of compass draw play.
“It was a pretty big success. We got to know our partner a little more and got to play new teams,” Troung said.
For Yang, this was also his first time playing in some varsity action. Last year, the junior was a sub-on late in the season on the varsity level but didn’t see much playing time.
This season, Yang will be a valuable asset, exciting him for the season to come.
“This was a pretty new experience so I’m kind of on the same level as everybody else here,” Yang said.
“I’ve always been pushed by my parents and stuff to try to be the best I can be and I feel like most of my game is game ready but sometimes I get down on myself and have some mental issues on the court.”
Luckily, his teammate, Troung, is there to pick him up in those times.
“Building up your teammates is very important for them and yourself. Encouraging them, having nice words, giving tips as well, will definitely help in the long run, and they’ll build their confidence and maybe they’ll build my confidence as well,” Troung said.
A true competitor, Troung said the only time he was a bit upset in Friday’s match was when the pair lost a couple of games back-to-back in the first set.
“We weren’t focused enough to finish it out and we dropped two games but we regrouped well and we finished it up. That was awesome,” Troung said.
Overall, these tournaments are meant to build confidence. And with a pair of easy wins, the DP doubles teams felt very good after day one and are ready to finish out the tournament strong and get right into the regular season.
“I’m very excited for the season. I feel like it’s going a lot better than last year as we have a higher number of more advanced players,” Gutap said.
“For me specifically, I’ll just need to work on a few specific shots and for the team but overall I am super excited. It was great to play here (at Las Positas Tennis Center) and I was grateful Tony at the Montecito Tennis Shop was able to string my racket for me for free.”