Antony Bogodist played his way into special company on Friday afternoon at the Golden Gate Park Tennis Courts.
The Lowell freshman cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Wallenberg junior Javan Gardinier to win the Academic Athletic Association boys’ tennis singles championship. In doing so, Bogodist, a 6-footer with a powerful forehand, secured the first step in his quest to carry the torch of current Santa Clara freshman and former Lowell standout Kenzo Hirakawa-Wong, who became the first player to win four straight AAA titles between 2002 and 2005.
"I think I can do it," Bogodist said.
While Hirakawa-Wong began his high school career as speedster who pestered opponents, Bogodist employs more of a power game, hanging out on the baseline and slamming forehands. He didn’t have much trouble with Gardinier, a player who had played the match of his career in Thursday’s semifinals to beat Lowell junior Max Zidorov 6-3, 7-5.
"I dictated the match," Bogodist said. "I knew he was the type of player who goes for more shots.
Bogodist — who was undefeated in the league and lost only one match in the non-league schedule — fired shots at Gardinier’s backhand throughout the match and then capitalized with winners that his hustling opponent couldn’t reach.
"I switched over to strategy today," Bogodist said. "Yesterday was more power tennis."
In his semifinal match, the freshman lost the first set but came back to beat Washington’s Benson Chau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in a match that worried Bogodist because of Chau’s quickness.
But the final brought a different challenge.
Gardinier never threatened in the first set, but took a 2-1 lead in the second before Bogodist closed the door by taking five straight games.
"Today I was nervous and
couldn’t get into a groove," said Gardinier, who has played the sport for only 2½ years and lacks big-match experience. "I was calm, but tense."
The match had a distinctive San Francisco flavor with two finalists that could not be mistaken for two country club suburban kids. Bogodist, a long-haired, first-generation American of Russian descent, celebrated winners with a clenched fist and by yelling the Russian word "Davai." Then there was the spirited Gardinier, who is black in a sport whose diversity is still
In the end, experience won out as the seasoned tournament player on the Northern California circuit left an intimidating task for anyone who hopes to challenge him in the next three years.
But Gardinier plans on putting in the time and gaining experience with daily practice and a summer of tournaments.
"Next year, I’m going to win it," Gardinier said.
Bogodist’s quest to match Hirakawa-Wong’s historical precedent is all the more likely considering the emotional young player recognizes parts of his game that he needs to improve. After questioning a few of the linesman’s calls early on, he refocused and won the ensuing games.
"Usually in summer tournaments, I’m not mentally tough and I break down. It’s something I need to work on," Bogodist said.
A title as a freshman was quite a start.
In the third-place match, Chau outlasted Sidorov 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. In doubles, third-seeded Frank Lu and Vadim Zakiyan knocked off top-seeded and fellow Lowell teammates Brent Lee and Alex Nguyen 6-1, 7-5 to claim the championship.
O’CONNELL 13, MARSHALL 2
Mari Cruz Gonzalez went 4-for-5 with five RBIs as the Boilermakers clinched a AAA playoff spot for the first time in school history.
LOWELL 20, BURTON 3
Sandy Huang, Courtney Dair and Marissa Chin each drove in three runs as the Cardinals sewed up second place and a bye in the first round of the AAA playoffs.
O’Connell 13, Marshall 2
O’Connell 620 212 — 13 11 0
Marshall 011 000 — 2 4 0
Bonnie Lam and Patricia Granados; Kong and Bo. W—Lam. L—Kong.
Leading hitters: Mari Cruz Gonzalez (O) 4x5 (double, homer), Isabel Zavelta (O) 2x2.
Lowell 20, Burton 3
Lowell 524 09 — 20 16 2
Burton 003 00 — 3 3 4
Samia Zuber and Sati Houston; Ma and Matic. W—Zuber. L—Ma.
Leading hitters: Sandy Huang (L) 3x5 (3 RBIs, 3 doubles), Courtney Dair (L) 2x4 (3 RBIs), Marissa Chin (L) 2x5 (3 RBIs, triple), Rubye Chu (L) 2x5 (2 RBIs), Samia Zuber (L) 2x4 (2 RBIs), Sati Houston (L) 3x5 (2 RBIs).