Liberty junior Anthony Busacca has conquered the Central Section in boys tennis doubles play, so he's taking the next logical step.
Busacca won the Southwest Yosemite League singles crown Friday at In Shape Sport-Laurel Glen, taking down upstart finalist Karan Sandhu of Centennial, 6-1, 6-0 and will move on to the section's South Area tournament next weekend at Wasco.
"It's great," said Busacca, who won the section doubles title with since-graduated Matt Sewell last season. "I won in doubles last year, so I figured I was ready to try singles."
Busacca has revamped his game to be even more aggressive: He repeatedly came to the net to catch Sandhu flat-footed, then shot winners past him.
"I've really improved my serve since last year," Busacca said. "It helps me get through all my matches, and it allows me to come to net a lot more. I'm a lot more aggressive."
The doubles team of Andrew Engel and Drew Raney made it a Liberty sweep of the individual SWYL titles when they beat Stockdale's John Matthew Flores and Matt Nisson, 6-2, 6-4. "I never thought I'd get here, being a league champion," Raney said. "I've really been playing well in doubles lately. I like it because you know where you need to hit it, and you have a partner helping you every step of the way."
Engel decided to play doubles in the postseason after looking at a deep section singles field and deciding he had a better chance at winning a doubles title. It was around that time that Raney sent him a text message telling him another Liberty teammate, Stevie Lancaster, had decided to play singles.
"Drew asked if I would be his partner, and I thought, 'Perfect,'" Engel said. "This is pretty sweet. You can take two incredible singles players and they might not play doubles well together, but we make a good team."
Stockdale, which was the league's team champion, swept the rest of the doubles podium, with Patrick Nassar and Nizam Khan beating teammates Andre Paradiseand Daniel Van Matre, 6-1, 6-2 for third place.
Lancaster, meanwhile, won third place in singles by default. Centennial's Salim Mussa was fourth; he retired at 4-4 in the third set of his semifinal with teammate Sandhu because of leg cramps.
The top six singles players and doubles teams from each league finals advance to the area tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday. The top four in singles and doubles there return to Wasco on May 17-18 for the section's individual championships.
Robles takes SEYL title
Garces senior Chris Robles decided it was time to turn his brain down a bit and let his body do the work.
And in the premier boys tennis matchup of league-championship Friday, Robles beat top-seeded Samuel Ramirez of East, 6-4, 6-4 for the first time in three tries this season -- and this one happened to be for the Southeast Yosemite League singles title.
"I just tried to play more consistent," Robles said. "The last two times I played him I made too many mistakes. I was thinking too much. This time I just stopped thinking."
That was especially important when Robles had to hold serve to close out 5-4 leads in both sets. He did and ends his league career as a champion.
"It feels great," he said. "I've been waiting for this. I feel pretty confident, and now I just have to keep playing this way."
Robles' singles title led a Garces sweep: The Rams duo of Thomas Newman and Christian Curutchugue won the doubles championship, 6-0, 6-2 over teammates Alec Slykerman and Zach Gomez, following a regular season in which Garces swept the SEYL.
Tehachapi's Ryan Bilotta took third in singles, beating East's Charles Hale, 6-0, 6-1, and Keegan Zehr-Jonathan Supple won an all-Tehachapi third-place doubles match, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 over Justin Ostrem-Brandon Dunn.
Roche wins SSL again
For Bakersfield Christian senior Sullivan Roche, winning the South Sequoia League singles championship was just a bit sweeter the third time around.
Yes, no one challenged Roche en route to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Arvin's Mario Cabaloza in the championship match, and yes, it's a nice way to end his SSL career. But Roche had another reason to celebrate, too.
"This is the first time in my four years that doubles and singles from our school won individual titles," Roche said. Nolan Schuler and Tanner Harris provided the Eagles with the doubles hardware, beating teammates Brandon Paw-Nicolo Daug 6-1, 6-1 in the final.
Roche, who was the SSL runner-up as a freshman before reeling off his three titles, now turns his eyes to next week's area tournament. But first, he'll take the time to appreciate his league accomplishment.
"It's not as competitive as Valley and all that, but it means a lot because it's the same teams we've seen for four years, and you look back at all the records and the years of guys who have won it before," Roche said. "This is definitely a nice way to end it."
Roche figures that he, Busacca, Robles and Ramirez are in a group that includes Clovis-Buchanan's Allan Wang and Visalia-Central Valley Christian's Andrew Gong, as players capable of winning a section singles title. "It's all super close," Roche said. "There isn't one dominant person to keep an eye out for, which is kind of nice."
Yanez wins SYL singles
Ridgeview's Brian Yanez erased memories of a South Yosemite League tournament upset a year ago and won the SYL singles title, beating Mira Monte's Alex Medina in the final, 6-1, 6-3.
Yanez was the No. 2 seed a year ago but was taken down in the semifinals by South's Masiel Herrera and eventually settled for fourth.
The West team of Jorge Lopez and Xavier Lomeli won the doubles crown, beating Ridgeview's Austin Lux-Zach Martin, 6-4, 6-1.
Mira Monte's Andres Ortega beat Lemuel Golingo of Ridgeview, 6-4, 7-6 for third in singles, and Giordan Maramo-Alex Rios of Ridgeview beat Jonathan Flores-Eric Reyes of South for third in doubles, 6-3, 6-4.