Boys’ varsity tennis soars over Branson to remain undefeated in MCALs


Bennett Vasquez

Enclosed by a dense population of trees and with a gleaming sun shining overhead, the boys’ varsity tennis took the court at Scott Valley tennis club, a neutral site in Mill Valley on Monday, March 10. The boys showed dominance across all the matches and cruised to a 5-2 victory against Branson.

Much like Redwood, Branson has a relatively young team, with their top three players being freshman. Still, this was the strongest team Redwood has faced so far this season, according to coach Craig Flax. Flax used the match as an attempt to better his team and prepare them for the harder Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) matchups.

“[Redwood] players [on Monday] were really patient, they didn’t rush their games. They took what was given to them, and then when it was time to win the point, they did,” Flax said.

The boys’ showed dominance during the matches, even in the ones they lost, according to Flax. The boys’ lost a strong senior class and what would have been one of their key players this season, junior Luke Neal, who decided to take the season off. However, Flax still has high hopes for the team due to their incredible talent across the board.

“In the last couple of years I have had crazy strong guys at the top of the ladder, but we always have really strong players all the way through. So towards the bottom we tend to dominate every match because we have more depth than the other teams in MCALs have,” Flax said.

One of the players that excelled in the match was senior Gabe Lewis. Although he did not win his match, he showed a great ability to change his game plan midway through the game. 

“To be able to change your tactics in the middle of a match is really hard to do. Some of the guys with more tournament experience are more used to doing something like that, but [Lewis] doesn’t have a lot of that tournament experience,” Flax said.

Lewis lost his first set but came back to win the second with his new tactics. According to Lewis, he was rushing the first set by trying to be too powerful with his shots. 

“The way I changed up my tactics was slowing the points down, taking a little bit more time and giving him a look at some shots that he had not seen before to trip him up,” Lewis said.

Freshman Liam Carpenter won his doubles match with senior Jack Benbow, saying that  they focused on taking advantage of the weaker player by hitting the ball to him. New to highschool tennis, one of the most intriguing parts to Carpenter was the team aspect of it, since before high school he had always played individually.

“The team atmosphere was really welcoming, and it is fun because the seniors bring a fun energy and are always cheering our team on the court,” Carpenter said.

This year’s seniors are a special group because of what they have already accomplished, according to Flax. Their knowledge and reliability is extremely useful to the young team, he says, and they are able to teach the idea of comradery. 

“They bring a maturity [to the team]. They are champions. They have won [North Coast Sectionals (NCS)] together, they have won MCALs every year they have been on the team. So they bring team experience for the younger players. Team tennis is not something anyone has experienced before they come to highschool,” Flax said.

The boys look to continue their winning streak next Monday, March 16, when they will face off against San Marin to continue their journey to another MCAL championship.