W. Tennis: State Championships see Falcons sweep all titles

Cerritos women's tennis celebrate their state titles
Cerritos women's tennis celebrate their state titles

For the first time in the history of the CCCAA, a brother/sister pair have won the singles state championship. Cerritos College freshman women's tennis player Kseniia Prokopchuk, along with her freshman brother, Alex Prokopchuk, completed the feat on Sunday morning at Libbey Park in Ojai. Kseniia, who was seeded #6, defeated #2-seeded Sandra DeFranescu of De Anza College, 6-4, 6-2. She becomes the fourth singles champion in Falcon history, joining Terri Spence (1981 & 1982) and Julie Hammon (1986).


CHAMPIONSHIPS/RECORDS SET BY CERRITOS MEN'S AND WOMEN'S TENNIS

Men's Team Dual State Championship (1st in school history)
Women's Team Dual State Championship (2nd in school history)
Both Team Dual State Championships in same season (2nd time ever in CCCAA History)
Combined Record for Men's Tennis (28-2) and Women's Tennis (25-1) Team Dual Record - 53-3
Men's Singles Champion (Alex Prokopchuk)
Men's Doubles Champion (Alex Prokopchuk/Marcos Paulo Silvestre)
Men's Singles and Doubles winner from same school (8th time in CCCAA History)
Women's Singles Champion (Kseniia Prokopchuk)
Women's Doubles Champion (Kseniia Prokopchuk/Kseniia Prokopchuk)
Women's Singles and Doubles winner from same school (18th time in CCCAA History)
Brother/Sister each winning Singles State Championship (1st Time in CCCAA History)
Brother/Sister each winning Doubles State Championship (1st Time in CCCAA History)
Both Men's and Women's Singles & Doubles Champion from same school (1st Time in CCCAA History)
Men's & Women's teams winning Ojai Team Title from same school (1st Time in CCCAA History)

SINGLES

As for Alex Prokopchuk (27-1), who was seeded #7, he defeated #1-seeded freshman teammate Kent Hunter, 6-3, 6-4 and now joins Nathan Eshmade (2014) as the only men's singles champion in school history. Prokopchuk's win handed the first loss of the season for Hunter (28-1), who had not lost a set all season in either singles or doubles, and had only dropped eight games in his five singles matches at the state tournament combined heading into the finals.

The team dual state championships by both teams, coupled with their singles and doubles championships, earned both the Falcons the men's and women's teams the Ojai Team Championship.

"Alexi made some unbelievable shots against Kent," said first-head head coach Quinn Caldaron. "Kent is known for his hard shots, but Alexi's returns were equally as hard and his shots were sent very deep. They play a lot against each other in practice and Kent normally wins, but they're close. But the way Alexi played today, with some of his shots, were amazing. Kent told me afterward that his legs were a little tired from the long week, but that's not to take anything away from the way Alexi played. "It was great tennis, both guys played well," added Caldaron. "Alexy put a lot of pressure on Kent. That's the best I've seen Alexy play … he was hitting hard and deep and made some incredible gets. It was really good tennis."

In the second set, the two were tied at 4-4 until Prokopchuk was able to break serve with a phenomenal shot down the line to take the game. Hunter was able to fight off three set points until Prokopchuk got the winner he was looking for to capture the title.

"I felt like I played my best tennis of the year at this tourney," said Prokopchuk to the CCCAA. "I've played Kent a few times in practice and I felt like I knew some of the things he was trying to do today."

On the women's side, Kseniia Prokopchuk (31-2) used her steady play to wear down DeFranescu. According to Caldaron, Kseniia kept her opponent "off balance with her high tennis IQ."

"The match started with both players trying to hit the ball as hard as they could," continued Caldaron. "But Kseniia was able to mix in lobs, use different angles and slices and then found the right moments to hit the ball hard. She's such a smart player and kept DeFranescu off-balance in the match."

"I was so tired today, my legs wouldn't listen to me," said Prokopchuk, who played a doubles semifinal at 8 a.m. (winning 6-0, 6-1), the singles final at 11 a.m. and the doubles final at 2:30 p.m. "It was a difficult final. She's a nice player (DeFrancescu), but I was confident the whole time."

DOUBLES

The Falcon women's doubles team of Prokopchuk and sophomore Lisa Suzuki made it a clean sweep with their 6-3, 6-0 win over American River College's mother-daughter combo of Eva Spindler and Lelani Spindler. Prokopchuck is just the eighth person to win a singles and doubles championship in the same season, and first since 2015. The duo, who were seeded #1, finished with a perfect 30-0 record, including the South Coast Conference Championship.

In the men's championship, it was Falcon vs. Falcon, as #1-seeded Hunter teamed with freshman Victor Castro to take on #2-seeded Prokopchuk and sophomore Marcos Paulo Silvestre. Hunter and Castro, champions of the South Coast Conference, entered the match with a 24-0 record, while the tandem of Prokopchuk and Silvestre were 15-1. Each of them played with multiple doubles partners until realizing that they played extremely well together, with their only loss being a 9-7 decision against teammates Dario Rico-Altozano and Kwangeun Lee in the conference semifinals. Rico-Altozano and Lee advanced to the state semifinals, where they were defeated by Hunter and Castro.

And just like in the men's singles, it was Prokopchuk who had a hand in Hunter losing for the first time. Prokopchuk and Silvestre fought back after losing the first set, 3-6, to win a marathon match that went to a third set tie-breaker, and posted 7-6(5) and 10-4 wins to capture the title.

"It's been a crazy year and a really exciting year," continued Caldaron. "Our goal was to win the state championship and we knew we had the talent to make it happen. I'm really proud that they put in the work throughout the season and even though they were the favorite, they never let up in practice."