San Benito Boys Tennis Team Forward Storming League Enemies –

The 2020 San Benito High boys tennis team was undefeated when Covid-19 closed its season. Two years later, the Haybalers have proven that the season was no coincidence.

If San Benito (10-0 overall, 8-0 PCAL Mission Division) beats Pacific Grove on April 7, it will put the team in a great position to run the league championship table. Should San Benito win the mission, it would play against the team in second place from the Upper Gabilan Division for a place in the playoffs in the Central Coast Section.

“The boys are getting the recognition they deserve, and they deserve it,” said Balers coach Rick Espino.

San Benito has two sets of brothers on the team, No. 1 and 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. Senior Hugh Nguyen plays first place and brother Andy, a junior, number 2. Hugh has been in first place since his second year, but Espino noted that there is not much difference between him and the top doubles team of senior Quinton Dolan and second place Callum Dolan, a proof of the quality of talent in the squad.

While No. 2-6 players on the ladder are not separated by much, Hugh Nguyen has the advantage over everyone else because he possesses a versatile skill set.

“He’s one of the best singles players we’ve had in the five or six years I’ve coached the boys team,” Espino said. “He is strong, fast and attacks well. He plays a versatile game from serve to volley to speed.”

Andy Nguyen gets it done differently than his brother. Espino describes the younger Nguyen as an unorthodox player because of the way he holds and grabs hold of his racket, especially on the backhand side. Despite that, Nguyen can hit effective slice, drop and topspin shots.

“Andy is different, but he makes it work,” Espino said.

Senior captain Ben Corlis plays number 3 in singles and is a four-year college player. Corlis wins by getting everything back – in tennis parlance he is referred to as a pusher or wall – which often frustrates opponents.

“Ben is the perfect backplate,” Espino said. “He just survives players and waits for you. He lobs it, hits short balls, comes to the net, and instead of hitting a hard volley, he gets it back and waits for you to make a mistake.”

Freshman Vincent Clark mannes the No. 4 spot, but sometimes plays the No. 2 doubles because other teams do not have enough players to field a full lineup. Espino said Clark and Andy Nguyen will challenge for the No. 1 singles spot next year.

“Vincent is tall and plays out of Ridgemark, so he has learned something, but now we are working with him on the right way to hit things off and improve his footwork,” Espino said. “His serve and groundstrokes have improved and he has been a great asset to the team.”

The Dolan brothers have also been instrumental in the team’s success because they have been a virtual lock to winning the No. 1 doubles match. Quinton played No. 4 singles the previous couple of years, but with the opportunity to play doubles with his brother this season, it was a no-brainer.

“Quinton and Callum have been playing together for years, it can be seen, and that’s what brings us over the top,” Espino said. “They’s probably the best doubles team of my time here. I think Quinton really stepped up his game because his brother pressured him. Callum may not have the best technique, but he gets the ball back and is a good player. He “is like Ben and pushes everything back. He really made his brother go up too.”

Jordan Patino and Baron Recht play No. 2 doubles and Juan Leon and Shane Wilbur No. 3. Patino is a four-year-old player and Espino said he has put it all together this season.

“This year, Jordan has improved so much and is playing good tennis,” Espino said. “As a team, the boys are excited about the position they are in and as long as they keep popping up and have a good attitude, we can do this and go undefeated in the league.”

Balers junior Andy Nguyen has been solid in playing No. 2 singles this season. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Brothers Callum and Quinton Dolan have had tremendous success in the No. 1 double. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Senior captain Ben Corlis is a four-year-old college player who plays consistently. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be met at [email protected]

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