Erik Buetow is new to town, but he still knows the history of the Bakersfield Christian tennis programs under legendary coach Frank Thiessen.
Buetow’s family moved from Cleveland in July when his father, John, was named the school’s president.
So when the Eagles captured yet another Central Section title after a rare off year with a 6-3 victory over East in the Division II final Wednesday at East, Buetow knew the importance of the moment.
“It was tough coming in a becoming a leader right away,” said Buetow, a sophomore. “But it’s awesome to be a part of this group. The more Valleys for Frank, the better.”
After three years at Fowler, Thiessen coached for 40 years at Wasco before taking over at BCHS in 2003. The boys have won a section title in 11 of the past 12 years — with last year the only exception — and his girls teams have won 13 straight championships.
Buetow, who defeated Angel Garcia 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles, is not the Eagles’ only newbie this season.
Freshman Nathan Kwon avenged a March loss to East senior Kaleb Johnson, beating the two-time BVarsity Player of the Year 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1 singles to tie the team score 3-3 heading to the doubles matches.
The top six players for BCHS (21-5) are all underclassmen, including junior Lukas Grimberg, who won No. 3 singles over Anthony Olivas 6-0, 6-3. That’s enough for Thiessen, 78, to put retirement on the backburner for at least a few more years.
“Every year that we do this and accomplish what we need to accomplish, it causes me to want to keep going and keep working,” Thiessen said.
“I enjoy what I am doing, and the kids are responding to the work that we do. As we go through the season, we get better and better.”
Thiessen and East coach Chris Colvin both shuffled their doubles lineups hoping to get an edge, and it worked out for BCHS.
Kwon stayed at No. 1 and, along with Caleb Bloemhof, beat Garcia and Adrian Lopez 6-0, 6-3.
Thiessen moved Buetow to No. 3 doubles with Noah Pitcher, and they beat David Ceja and Ahmed Baameur 6-0, 3-6, 10-5 to secure the title for the Eagles.
“I’m confident in my game,” Buetow said. “I feel that I have to get it done. Credit Nathan and Lukas leading the other two doubles. This is a great team to be on.”
The loss ends a great two-year run for East.
The Blades (20-2) have gone undefeated in the South Yosemite League the last two seasons and won their second D-II title since 2010 last spring.
The loss was tough on Johnson, who Colvin said has “taken the team on his shoulders.”
“(Johnson) is wounded right now,” Colvin said.
“But without him, there is no way we are here. We just got beat by the better team today.”
BCHS will be the only Kern County team to win a section team title this season.
With only seven teams in the D-II playoffs, the championship match was played six days before the other four division championships. On Thursday, the four county teams left in other division semifinals all lost.
Stockdale’s season ended in a 5-4 loss on the road at Clovis West in D-I. No. 3 Delano lost to No. 2 Reedley-Immanuel 8-1 in D-III, while Foothill lost to Dinuba 5-4 and Arvin lost to Oakhurst-Yosemite 8-1 in D-IV.