Mira Costa’s Giese claims Bay League singles tennis title

Mira Costa’s Kelly Giese won the Bay League Singles Championship last week. Photos courtesy of Mira Costa Tennis

by Paul Teetor

Peninsula High’s Sean Ferguson beat Mira Costa’s Kelly Giese twice this season, giving Peninsula the Bay League title and pushing Mira Costa into second. But Giese may have had the greater motivation when the two met for a third time last week this season, in the finals of the Bay League Singles tournament at the Jack Kramer Club in Palos Verdes. 

Ferguson was the first seed and Giese the second seed in a field of the 16 top players in the Bay League, which consists of Costa, Redondo, Culver City, Santa Monica, and the two traditional tennis powerhouses that draw most of the top juniors coming out of the Kramer Club, Peninsula and Palos Verdes.

“I knew Sean is really good because he had beaten me already,” Giese said. “But I also knew that I really, really wanted to win this tournament. My two older sisters, Lindsey and Madison, played for Costa before I did, so I had seen all the plaques on the school wall from earlier players who won the Bay League tournament. This was something I had been aiming for since I was a little kid.”

Mira Costa coach attributes Giese’s success to natural athleticism and court sense.

Giese took the first set 6-3 by controlling the baseline and dictating the rallies, but Ferguson fought back and took the second set by the same score of 6-3. That set up the super tie-breaker: first one to 10, by two points, wins the match. 

Giese didn’t panic. He just thought a little harder about his tactics and strategy.

“I knew I had to back him up, make him move more, and make him unbalanced on more of his shots,” Giese said. “I saw that he really loves to run around his backhand and hit forehands, so I tried to work the rally until I could exploit that tendency in his game.”

 As soon as the tie-breaker started, he regained his momentum.

“I started off pretty strong by rallying him out, and went up 8-2. But then he fought back to get to 9-7. At that point I was just trying to keep a positive mindset. I just had to keep adapting to his playing style.”

Which he did, capturing the next point to win the tie-breaker and the whole tournament. 

Costa boys head coach Mark McGuire said Giese’s close win over Ferguson demonstrated the growth in his game, just in the last year, when he went from Costa’s third singles player last season to the Bay League singles champion this season.

“He played that match with a Mamba mentality,” McGuire said.

Mira Costa’s number 1 singles player Kelly Giese.

“Kelly is just a great kid who loves the game and works as hard at it as anyone I’ve ever seen,” he said. “He just keeps on improving. He deserves all the success he’s having.”

“He has a killer kick serve and he’s very athletic,” McGuire said. “But his real growth has been in learning to use his head more, to think on the court from minute to minute, and figure out what he needs to do in terms of tactics and strategy,” he said. “He’s always been very athletic, but now he’s a thinker out there too.”

To reach the finals, Giese had to win three matches on the first day of the tournament. “I knew these were the best players in the Bay League, so I figured it would be a rough road to the finals,” Giese said.

 In the first round match against Peninsula’s David Hwang, he played with a bloody knee.

“I had a cut on my knee that was already scabbed over,” Giese said. “We were having a pretty good point when my front foot slipped out from underneath me as I was reaching for a shot. My right knee scraped the court, and blood started dripping down my leg. I had to wait till the end of the game to get  a paper towel to wipe it down. Then coach put a bandaid on it.”

In the second round Giese beat Bodi Brannen 6-1 and 6-2. 

But as he moved on to his third match of the day against Taki Shuda, from Peninsula, he started to cramp. “I made sure to eat a banana, and I got rid of the cramp pretty fast,” he said. He won that match 6-2 and 6-1 and then had one day to prepare for the finals against the top-seeded Ferguson

He will now move on to the CIF regional tournament next month.

Giese said when he was first learning to play tennis as a little boy, his Grandma Robin gave him some advice: Keep chasing that little yellow ball.

Grandma Robin has passed on to that big tennis court in the sky, but if she were still around she would be proud to see he has taken her advice to heart.

Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com. Follow: @paulteetor. ER

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