Longstanding success of the West Anchorage tennis program hasn’t just been the participation

The key to the longstanding success of the West Anchorage tennis program hasn’t just been the participation of several top players year after year. What’s separated the Eagles from the rest of the pack annually is how their tremendous depth helps produce surprising results and upsets.

That’s exactly what happened Friday night at the Region IV championship tournament in the boys singles division. West had a pair of players make it to the semifinals. While it wasn’t a surprise that Jude Cebrian made it that far, West got a pleasant surprise when Noah Marx reached the semis as well.

“He beat the fourth-seed (Tommy Molloy) from Eagle River to get to semifinals,” West coach Bill Cotton said. “It was an exceptional tournament for him. He really stood out and did some very unexpected things.”

While Marx didn’t advance to the next round, and neither did Cebrian because of an injury forfeit due to a sore wrist, the Eagles were still well-represented in the finals on Saturday as they cruised to a sixth straight regional title.

West had a player or doubles pairing in each of the four other divisions and had champions crowned in all of them.

The Eagles’ first-place finishers included Ruth Green and Lavinia Li in girls doubles, Henry Carr and Sarah Kim in mixed doubles, Cyrus Clendaniel and Will Sedwick in boys doubles and freshman sensation Lana Cebrian in girls singles.

“I hope to bring home No. 1 at state,” Lana Cebrian said. “That’s my goal for now.”

She remained undefeated with a victory over Eagle River’s Skylar McCasland but admits that she was pushed harder than she expected coming into the match.

“Skylar was my biggest challenge here,” Cebrian said. “At first, I thought Veronica (Bogdziewicz of South) would be.”

Cebrian won the match 6-1, 6-4.

Clendaniel and Sedwick both made it to the state finals last year as part of different pairings in different divisions. Clendaniel finished first in state in boys doubles with Jude Cebrian as his partner and Sedwick finished in state in mixed doubles with Ava Smith as his partner.

“I told them at the beginning of the season that they would be playing boys doubles together this year,” Cotton said. “They knew each other growing up and they’re both very good tennis players. In doubles you need kids that can get along mentally and who have complementary games.”

This isn’t the first year that the two longtime friends have been partners on the court. They played together as freshmen, and their bond off the court dates back to when they were in kindergarten.

“I’ve looked forward to playing with Cyrus again,” Sedwick said. “I knew that when my senior year came, I was going to play with him. We both knew that we’d be playing boys doubles and that we’d have a chance at winning.”

Their chemistry came in handy Saturday on their third meeting of the season against Dimond’s Jack Debenham and Spike Clark. Their finals match went to a third-set tiebreaker that was won on a powerful serve by Sedwick.

“They’re a good team and it’s really fun playing against them,” Clendaniel said. “It’s always very competitive.”

Their match wasn’t the only finals bout that required a third-set tiebreaker to decide a winner. The most exciting and tightly contested match of the day was the second meeting of the season between Service’s Ulysses Escobar and South’s Aaron Griffin. While the two of them are friends, they’re fierce rivals on the court and were the last two standing at last year’s state finals, when Griffin ultimately prevailed with a decisive victory.

Escobar won the lone meeting between the two in the regular season and did so again in decisive fashion in the first match of Saturday’s regional finals.

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