The most dominant boys’ tennis program in the history of the San Francisco Section proved its mettle once again in Thursday’s Academic Athletic Association tournament championship match at Golden Gate Park.
Lowell High School delivered another impressive performance in a 5-2 win over Lincoln, and it wasn’t even that close. The Cardinals showed once again why it’s them and everyone else in the SFS-AAA, winning the championship for the 22nd time in the event’s 25 year existence.
“Every year it feels it can’t get any better, and every year it does,” said third-year Lowell coach Bryan Lee, whose squad advances to next Friday’s CIF Northern California tournament at Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River. “This one is particularly a little more meaningful because I’ve had some of these kids since they were freshmen and sophomores, and I’ve watched them grow.”
The Cardinals (10-4) defeated Lincoln (6-4) for the third time in as many tries this season. Lowell took care of business early on Thursday, winning the first four matches to take any suspense out of the match. Lowell’s No. 3 singles player, junior Nathaniel Jee, clinched the fourth and decisive point with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Began Nguy. Prior to Jee’s win, the Cardinals received points from No. 2 singles player David Mai, the No. 1 doubles team of Andy Huynh-Nicholas Haddad and the No. 2 doubles squad of Brandon Szeto-Max Endicott.
Lowell’s No. 3 team of James Uejio-Andre Bododea accounted for the Cardinals’ fifth point.
Lincoln received wins from David Dinh at No. 1 singles and Thomsein Hui at No. 4 singles.
How dominant have the Cardinals been? They had a stretch of 17 — count ’em, 17 — consecutive championships from 1991 to 2007. Talk about a winning tradition.
“We have kids who are looking to get better,” Lee said. “We’ve got some talented players, but I don’t think any of our guys started playing when they were really young. We don’t have top junior players [who play U.S.T.A. tournaments], so it shows how much they are students of the game.”
Without an elite level player, the Cardinals relied on a deep, balanced lineup that featured players who were always willing to go the distance — literally.
“After I put them through conditioning, some of the kids will run an extra mile after practices,” Lee said.
Jee pointed to the team’s camaraderie as a major reason why Lowell has been able to build a tennis dynasty.
“We’re really that close with one another,” Jee said. “We’re supportive of each other in practice, and of course in the matches. We win not only for ourselves, but each other.”