PHS boys tennis | Highlanders fall in NCS quarterfinals

Damin Esper

Piedmont's Arun Brahma returns a shot during an NCS playoff quarterfinal on May 9 against Branson at College of Marin.

The Piedmont High School boys tennis team proved no match for second-seeded Branson-Ross at College of Marin on May 9, falling 7-0 in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division 2 playoffs.

“That’s a very good team,” Highlanders coach Jim Landes said. “We got better during the season. We came in third in the league but it was very close between us and the first two, (Bishop) O’Dowd and Berkeley. We had a great match on Tuesday against Marin Catholic.”

Piedmont finished the season 13-10. Branson is 18-2 and advanced to the NCS semifinals on May 11 against Bishop O’Dowd at the San Francisco Tennis Center. Acalanes faces top-seed University-San Francisco in the other semifinal with the winners meeting after the semifinals.

Branson went undefeated last year and won the NCS title. Although the Bulls lost a couple of key seniors, a large portion of the team returned for another dominant season. Only two Piedmont singles players were able to force a third set.

At No. 1 singles, Chase Hoeveler came back from down a set to beat Lucas Smolko, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. A key came with the second set tied 4-4 when Hoeveler broke Smolko.

Piedmont’s Lucas Smolko gets low for a backhand during a match against Branson’s Chase Hoeveler.

At No. 3 singles, Mason Ogborne beat Nate Welch, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. Ishwar Jayaraman beat Ben Breber at No. 2, 6-2, 7-5. Griffin Cooper defeated Graham Alban at No. 4, 6-2, 6-1.

At No. 1 doubles, Piedmont’s Monte Imburg and Arun Brahma started well against brothers Finn and Tommy Higgins, but succumbed, 6-4, 6-2. It was James Stovell and Oliver Goldman over Nick King and Will Tenney at No. 2, 6-2, 6-2. And Zander Alpert and Cal Keenley downed Hunter Fasteau and Kasper Jansson at No. 3, 6-0, 6-0.

Piedmont’s Graham Alban concentrates while setting up his backhand.

“We’ve played them the last couple of seasons and it has always been a good challenge for us,” Branson coach Chrissie Costamagna said. “I think I was particularly impressed with our third doubles (Alpert and Keenley) that won 0 and 0. They were off the court probably in 40 minutes. I thought everybody played well, everybody played focused. Piedmont brought out their best and I think we competed well against them.”

Piedmont’s Ben Breber fires a return during his match with Branson’s Ishwar Jayaraman at College of Marin.

Piedmont made the quarterfinals with a 4-3 win over visiting Marin Catholic on May 7. Smolko defeated Jack Millar at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 7-6 (5). Breber beat Andrew Gorczycki at No. 2, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Highlanders also took the top two doubles matches with Imburg and Brahma downing Milo Vidyarthi and Charlie Miller, 6-4, 6-3. King and Tenney defeated Ajax Constantin and Mac Abele, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Piedmont’s Nate Welch returns a shot during his No. 3 singles match against Branson’s Mason Ogborne.

The Wildcats got wins at No. 3 singles from Qas Vidyarthi over Welch (6-0, 7-5) and No. 4 from Felix Adam over Alban (7-6 (5), 7-5).

Marin Catholic’s Craig Parker and Trevor Tobin beat Fasteau and Jansson at No. 3 doubles, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

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