CIF Prep Boys Tennis: Rancho Bernardo High duo captures second straight doubles crown; first tandem in 30 years to accomplish feat
By Michael Bower
Chris Bernhardt and Aiku Shintani became just the second boys doubles team in the history of the San Diego Section to capture back-to-back championships on Monday.
The duo from Rancho Bernardo High started slow, but settled down to beat La Costa Canyon’s Philippe Rivard and Nicky Yamamoto in three sets (5-7, 6-3, 6-0) to raise the championship trophy for the second year in a row at Barnes Tennis Center.
The last time a doubles team won two straight section titles was when La Jolla’s Morses and Khoury did it in 1982 and 1983, according to the record book on the CIF San Diego Section website.
“I don’t know if you want to publicize that; then people will shoot for it,” the senior Bernhardt said jokingly. “It was definitely nice winning just one and becoming part of history. Winning back-to-back is definitely special.”
Bernhardt and Shintani, who played only a few matches during the regular season together, did not decide to defend their 2012 section doubles title until the last minute. Bernhardt was considering trying his luck in the section singles championships instead.
“I know that (Aiku) wanted to play singles throughout the season and I wanted to give CIF singles a try,” said Bernhardt, who hopes to walk on the tennis team at the University of Arizona in the fall. “But then I looked at the draw and everyone was unbelievable in the singles draw so I thought we can give doubles another try.”
And they picked up right where they left off last season. Shintani, a sophomore, was strong at the net and Bernhardt provided a powerful serve. The combination of the two proved to be too much to handle for the duo from La Costa Canyon.
“We compliment each other on the court really well,” Bernhardt said. “With my serve and him at the net, it is really tough to break me.”
Bernhardt and Shintani rallied after dropping the first set 7-5. The tandem won the first three games of the second set before forcing the decisive third set with a 6-3 victory. There was no slowing them down at that point, as the two polished off their second title with a 6-0 win in the final set.
“This is the CIF finals so we came out a little more nervous and a little more passive than in other matches,” Bernhardt said. “We just sat down on the bench after losing that first set and we said we need to play like we did the rest of the season. Play more aggressive and take over at the net. And that was the difference.”
Shintani will miss his doubles partner of the last two years, but said he is looking forward to trying his luck in the singles championships.
“We got pretty close this year and it is going to be hard not having him around, but I have some other friends on the team,” Shintani said of Bernhardt’s departure. “I am going to give singles a shot next year. We will see how that goes.”
Rancho Bernardo senior William Chiu fought hard, but fell to Torrey Pines’ Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-3 in the section singles championship match Monday at Barnes Tennis Center.
Chiu, who entered as the No. 2 seed, struggled with his serve early and fell behind 4-0 in the first set before going on to lose to the top-seeded Fritz.
Chiu then seemed to find his game in the second set, breaking Fritz’s serve to take a 3-2 lead. But Fritz answered by taking the next four games in a row to capture the section crown.
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