M&W Tennis: Falcons pull off rare double state title

Cerritos men's and women's tennis team celebrate title
Cerritos men's and women's tennis team celebrate title

Men's Photos

Women's Photos

For just the second time in CCCAA history, both the men's and women's team dual state champions have come from the same school. On Wednesday, both the Cerritos College men's and women's tennis teams defeated their opponents, 5-0 to win their titles. The men defeated American River College for their first-ever team dual state title, while the women captured their second state title in three seasons, as they finished off De Anza College. The Falcons defeated De Anza for their 2016 title. The only other school to win both titles in the same season was College of the Desert in 2009.

First-year head coach Quinn Caldaron took the state titles in stride. "I was the beneficiary of a great group of players when I was hired right before the start of the season," said Caldaron. "They were very welcoming of me and we immediately worked well together. It's a great group of kids and a lot of the credit goes to the former coach (Alvin Kim), who brought these players in and made me look good."


The men's team opened the day with a sweep of the Beavers, who they defeated, 9-0 earlier in the season. Starting with doubles, the Falcons took big leads in each of the matches to open up a 3-0 team score lead. At the top of the doubles ladder, freshmen Kent Hunter (Home Schooled) and Victor Castro (Novo Hamburgo, Brazil) broke a 1-1 tie by winning the next five games for a commanding 6-1 lead then resulted in an 8-3 victory. It was the same for freshman Alex Prokopchuk (School 45, Ukraine) and sophomore Marcos Paulo Silvestre (Colégio Tiradentes of PMMG, Brazil), who turned a slim 3-2 lead into an 8-2 win after taking the next five games.

It became a clean sweep when freshman Dario Rico-Altozano (Colegio Cumbre, Spain) and sophomore Kwangeun Lee (Sunny Hills HS) also tuned a 1-1 match into a 5-1 lead on their way to an 8-3 victory.

The match was locked down after a pair of straight set wins by Hunter (6-2, 6-2) in the #1 position and Rico-Altozano (6-2, 6-4), who played in the #5 spot. The Falcons won the first set in all six singles matches, as they concluded their dual meet season with a 28-2 record. 

"The plan was established early in the season with this group," added Caldaron. "With us winning our matches fairly easily at times this season, the biggest obstacle was to keep the players motivated. But they work hard and pushed each other in practice, which continually made us a better team. Most of our talks this season were about motivation and remaining focused."

Kent Hunter/Victor Castro (Cerr) def. Mikey Vizcarra/Sam Hall (ARC), 8-3
Alex Prokopchuk/Marcos Paulo Silvestre (Cerr) def. Paul Bhatia/Pete Gibson (ARC), 8-2
Dario Rico-Altozano/Kwangeun Lee (Cerr) def. Andres Anderson/Robert Kendall (ARC), 8-3

Kent Hunter (Cerr) def. Paul Bhatia (ARC), 6-2, 6-2
Victor Castro (Cerr) vs. Mikey Vizcarra (ARC), 6-3, 4-2, DNF
Alex Prokopchuk (Cerr) vs. Pete Gibson (ARC), 6-4, 1-2, DNF
Biel Roca Carreras (Cerr) vs. Sam Hall (ARC), 6-4, 1-1, DNF
Dario Rico-Altozano (Cerr) def. Andres Anderson (ARC), 6-2, 6-4
Kwangeun Lee (Cerr) def. Robert Kendall (ARC), 6-5, DNF

Photos by Ventura College Athletics


Taking on a Gladiators team that was making their third straight state championship appearance - and second against the Falcons - the outcome of the match started to take shape after doubles, where Cerritos surrendered just two games in winning all three in just 33 minutes. Earlier in the season, the Falcons defeated De Anza, 8-1 in the Ventura Tournament.

Sophomore Lisa Suzuki (Fujimigaoka, Japan/Seward County (KS) CC) and freshman Kseniia Prokopchuk (School 45, Ukraine) improved to 25-0 as a pair with their 8-1 win, while the tandem of sophomore Petra Such (Illyes Gyula, Hungary) and Moa Lindstrom (Dragonskolans Elitidrottgymnasium, Sweden) matched that score in their #2 match. Earning an 8-0 shutout win was the sophomore pairing of Itzi Torres (ITESM CEM, Mexico/Kansas Wesleyan University) and Diviana Bravo (Rosa de Jesus Cordero, Ecuador).

"Lisa and I have a lot of confidence in each other because we have played so many (doubles) matches together," said Prokopchuk. "We trust that the other person is going to be where we expect them to be and it's helped us win every time we've played together. I slept well last night, so I had a lot of energy," added Prokopchuk, who finished off Angelica Gagliano in singles play with a forehand winner at the net. "We felt very confident and communicated well in our doubles set. It feels great to be state champion and it hasn't really sunk in yet."

Prokopchuk moved Cerritos one win closer to their state title after her dominant 6-0, 6-0 win in the #3 singles position, while Torres capped off the championship with a 6-0, 6-1 victory at #5.

"This has been a great year for our tennis program in dual meet competition," said first-year head coach Quinn Caldaron. "We really focused on doubles this year because we felt like our singles was so strong and we could compete with anyone in the state," added Caldaron. "With doubles being played first, we figured if we got up 2-1 or 3-0, we didn't see any way of losing. It feels awesome to win two state titles (the men won earlier in the day) and I feel lucky to be put in position to have this opportunity. We have to thank the last coach (Alvin Kim) a little bit for this. He poured his heart and soul into these teams."

Lisa Suzuki/Kseniia Prokopchuk (Cerr) def. Sandra DeFrancescu/Maria Zimmerman (DA), 8-1
Petra Such/Moa Lindstrom (Cerr) def. Carlee Ellis/Angelica Gagliano (DA), 8-1
Itzi Torres/Diviana Bravo (CERR) def. Sharon Cao/Sakina Khawari (DA), 8-0

Lisa Suzuki (Cerr) vs. Sandra DeFrancescu (DA), 6-3, 0-1, DNF
Petra Such (Cerr) vs. Maria Zimmerman (DA), 5-5, DNF
Kseniia Prokopchuk (Cerr) def. Angelica Gagliano (DA), 6-0, 6-0
Moa Lindstrom (Cerr) vs. Carlee Ellis (DA), 6-4, 3-0, DNF
Itzi Torres (Cerr) def. Sakina Hhawari (DA), 6-0, 6-1
Diviana Bravo (Cerr) vs. Sharon Cao (DA), 6-1, 2-2, DNF

Photos by Felix Cortez

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