With the regular season behind him, Pinewood School’s Gabe Owens has shifted his focus to the playoffs. The top-seeded singles player in this week’s West Bay Athletic League boys tennis tournament, the sophomore seems destined for next month’s Central Coast Section individual playoffs.
“I definitely want to play in CCS,” he said. “I want to go far in the league tournament to qualify and then win some matches in CCS.”
Owens wasn’t able to do that last year. He lost in the opening round of CCS to Stevenson’s Riley Scott after retiring in the third set due to an injury.
Along with remaining injury-free, Owens believes he knows what it will take to advance in the playoffs.
“I have to go all-out and play my best,” he said, “and not hold back.”
Where Owens gets seeded in the CCS tourney, scheduled May 20 and 21 at Imperial Courts in Aptos, could also affect his success.
“CCS really depends on his draw,” Pinewood coach Craig Corfield said. “Of course, he has to get there first.”
The coach expects Owens to make it – and his performance this season supports that belief. He cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Woodside Priory’s Matt Surber Thursday to finish the regular season with a sparkling 15-2 record.
Owens lost just once in league – to friend Gunther Matta of Menlo School – and won the rest of his matches in straight sets. Owens said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Matta on the other side of the net in the WBAL tournament, which began Monday at Menlo (after the Town Crier’s press deadline).
Owens is the defending champ; as a freshman he crushed Crystal Springs Uplands’ Connor Soohoo 6-1, 6-0 in the singles final.
“His shot selection and variety in his game is still amazing,” Corfield said. “We are trying to build his confidence around the net and in his volleys.”
Owens added that his net game “is a lot more consistent” this season. It is just one of several skills he’s honed in the past year.
“I’ve definitely improved my serve and am getting more points (with it),” Owens said, “and my backhand is more consistent.”
The Los Altos resident intends to get even better over the summer when he has more time to train with Brian Eagle, co-founder of the Eagle Fustar Tennis Academy.
“I’m not sure how many tournaments I’m going to play,” Owens said. “I want to focus on a bunch of training and improve more.”