By Dave Loveton, SBCC Sports Information
Nathan Eshmade of Cerritos made a dramatic rally to capture the CCCAA Men's Tennis singles title at the Ojai on Sunday, then added the doubles crown with partner Amadi Kagoma.
Eshmade, who recently accepted a scholarship to UCSB, is the first player to win both titles in nine years. Ventura's Jeroen Van Ruller completed the double in 2005.
Eshmade, a sophomore from Adelaide, Australia, was a perfect 28-0 in singles this year. On Wednesday, he was named the ITA Player of the Year.
Eshmade beat Lovedeep Singh of American River 7-5, 6-3 in a battle of the No. 1 players from the South and North at Libbey Park. Singh built a 5-3 lead in the first set but Eshmade weathered eight deuces and three set points to win his service game.
Then he broke Singh to even the match at 5-5. Eshmade held his serve to take the lead and broke Singh for the fourth time to secure the 7-5 triumph. After trailing 5-3 in the opening set, Eshmade won nine of the next 10 games and took a commanding 5-1 lead in the second set.
"I was broken a couple of times, I was hitting well, I was just making a few too many unforced errors," said Eshmade, who reached the state semifinals last year. "I realized that he was starting to hit the ball short, so I started playing a bit closer in the court. Just stepping into the court, keeping the ball in play and making him miss was the biggest thing.
"Momentum changed my way and the guys got behind me and I took the set. Consistency was the key to winning."
It was Eshmade's second straight-set win over Singh this year.
"You always think you know a kid and then you see him down 3-5 and set point against him," said Falcon coach Alvin Kim. "He was just ice cold from then on. I'm so proud of the way he handled himself mentally. It takes courage to play some shots and make certain decisions.
"He was super cool throughout the match and I was so, so impressed."
Three hours later, Eshmade returned for the doubles final. He and Kagoma were the top seed in doubles. They won a tight 7-6 (5), 6-3 battle with No. 5 Scott Gray and Jakov Tshirkin of Fresno City.
Eshmade won his serve twice in the first set of doubles, capping his second win with an ace serve that tied the set at 5-5. Eshmade and Kagoma finished with a 24-2 record in doubles.
Eshmade is the fifth player to win both singles and doubles titles in the last 21 years.
For complete results of the 2014 CCCAA State championships view the CCCAA Draws.