Down a set and on the verge of being dethroned of his Southwest Yosemite League singles title, Anthony Busacca decided it was time for a change in strategy.
Instead of continuing his preferred serve-and-volley style of play, the Liberty senior determined he would be better off served staying put as much as possible on the baseline.
The alteration in tactics worked out perfectly for Busacca, who rallied to beat top-seeded John Matthew Flores of Stockdale 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the SWYL singles final Friday at In-Shape Health Club.
"After I lost that first set I needed to refocus," Busacca said. "I just refocused and took a whole new approach to it. That's what allowed me to take (the match)...I decided to only serve and volley my first serve, if I hit it well. So that was if I saw him hesitating a little bit and I had a chance. Because the first set I was going for everything and he was just returning too well."
After Flores won four of five games to finish off the first set, Busacca began implementing his new strategy and jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set.
Flores, 4-1 over the past two years against Busacca prior to Friday, fought back to narrow the second-set gap to 4-3.
But with a chance draw even in the set, Flores failed to hold serve and soon afterward Busacca won another game and forced a third set, which turned out to be one-sided.
Busacca won the SWYL singles title last year and doubles title in 2012.
"I'm really happy, especially since I was 0-2 before that against him this season," Busacca said.
Flores gave credit to Busacca for adjusting his style in order to get a better result.
"The past two times (we played) he served and volleyed which I could neutralize," Flores said. "But today he played smarter than I did and he hit smarter shots and he won."
Despite Flores' loss in the singles final, the Mustangs shined overall. All nine Stockdale entries in the two-day event placed in the top six of either singles or doubles, earning them a spot in the South Area tournament which will be held in two weeks at Garces.
Andrew Schwartz and Nizam Khan were at the forefront of Stockdale's SWYL tournament success.
The duo beat teammates Daniel Van Matre and Patrick Nassar 6-4, 6-7(3-7), 6-2 in the doubles final.
"This match (the doubles final) was tough, especially because we were going against our teammates," Khan said. "It was a fun match but there were definitely a lot of emotions going back and forth. But the number one thing was to stay positive and take it point by point and that's what we did. Thankfully, we pulled it out in the end."
East's Kaleb Johnson was a bit deflated when he found out he wasn't going to get the opportunity to face Garces' Dylan Simonsen in the Southeast Yosemite League singles final.
Having gone 1-1 against Simonsen in their first two meetings, Johnson was hoping for a rubber-match against his good friend and toughest league rival.
But with Simonsen out of the picture due to a hand injury, Johnson (19-1) dominated the competition, beating Tehachapi's Simon Weber 6-1, 6-0 for the SEYL singles title at Garces.
"It was pretty exciting but I knew it probably would have been a little bit different if Dylan didn't have a broken hand," Johnson said. "...He told me the day before that he wasn't going to play the next day. I was pretty disappointed."
Johnson, the younger brother of four-time SEYL singles champion D.J. Johnson, lost just three games during his four tournament matches.
"I think I did pretty good on almost everything but I need to work on my backhand, like seriously," Kaleb Johnson said. "It's pretty bad right now."
The doubles final was an all-Garces affair that saw Alec Slykerman and Zach Gomez defeat Christian Curutchague and Kyle Haffermann, 6-1, 6-4.
"The guys decided they wanted to go for the doubles again," Garces coach Barb Johnston said. "Alec and Zach teamed up and Christian and Kyle teamed up. They all played very well together. They hadn't played that much together all year so I was happy about that."
Despite his injury, Simonsen won twice on Thursday, playing all or mainly left-handed before defaulting Friday's third-place match to the Blades' Josue Ruiz.
Clayton Williams and Iskander Sungatov of North downed Brandon Dunn and Eric Bilotta of Tehachapi, 6-7(5-7), 6-3, 6-1, to take third place in doubles.
It didn't take long for Jack Han to make his mark playing high school tennis in the United States. Just three weeks after enrolling at Bakersfield Christian following a family move from Canada, Han came up big at the South Sequoia League Championships by beating teammate Christopher Wallace 6-2, 6-1 in the singles final at Taft High.
"When I came here I knew high school tennis was going to be intense competition," Han said. "Other than that I really didn't know what to expect. But I'm happy that I got my first tournament win in the U.S."
BCHS's top-seeded doubles team of Tanner Harris and Nicolo Daug also brought home first place medals. The duo whipped Taft's Chuy Gutierrez and Cristo Miranda 6-1, 6-3 for the doubles title.
"I'm blessed to have such a wonderful partner to play tennis with," Harris said. "Someone who can carry me as much as I can carry him, who can equal my skills and help me improve on what I'm not exactly the best at. It was just awesome playing with him."
Both Harris and Daug pointed to their ability to work well together as the main reason for them being so successful during the two-day event.
"We played some really good tennis, mostly because of our teamwork," Daug said. "We picked each other up throughout the match. We had endurance. We persevered throughout the match and we were just really consistent."
Taft's Cameron Bunch and Rafa Arregyn beat BCHS' Branden Paw and Bradley Robinson 6-4, 6-3, in the doubles third-place match.
Cesar Chavez's Joe Rojas took third place in singles. He defeated Kyler Fields of Taft, who developed cramps and had to retire from the match after winning the first set 7-5.
Wallace, the tournament's top-seed, was undefeated in singles this season prior to losing to Han (10-0) on Friday.
"Jack played a really good match," Wallace said. "I just didn't bring my full game and he obviously kept his together. Other than that it was a really good, competitive end of the tournament."
Han said he knew, based on experience, it wasn't going to be east to beat Wallace.
"I knew I had to have intensity on the first point because we always practice together and our level is really close, so anyone on a given day can beat the other person," Han said. "So I knew I had to stick to my game plan, which I did, and play my best tennis to beat him."
Mira Monte's Alex Medina figured that if he passed up a meeting with a congressman, he'd better make the most of it.
Medina did just that, beating top-seeded Austin Lux of Ridgeview 7-5, 6-2 in the South Yosemite League singles final at Bakersfield Racquet Club.
"I was iffy if I was going to play in this tournament," Medina said. "I had a Ford Dimension lunch with Kevin McCarthy today, and yesterday I had a drama practice, so I almost had to default. I'm glad I played."
It's the first league title for Medina, who had lost twice to Lux during the regular season.
"My coach pulled me to the side and said, 'Alex, today is the day to represent your school,'" Medina said. "I love my school, I love Mira Monte, so I just did it for them and for the tennis team. It's amazing."
Mira Monte's Chris Barcenas beat West's Xavier Lomeli 6-1, 6-3 for third place in singles.
The West High team of Wesley Carias and Jordy Cruz beat their top-seeded teammates, Jorge Lopez and Alan Rojas, 6-1, 6-2 in the SYL doubles final. Ridgeview's Alex Rios and Daniel Aquino took third.