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CCA honors Raven tennis team seniors

The Canyon Crest Academy tennis team held its annual senior send-off on April 18, celebrating seniors Joe Altaffer, Noah Kay, Jonathan Park, Max Tokman and co-team managers Justin Shimizu and Justin Wilkey.

The senior celebration preceded a match-up against La Jolla Country Day with the Ravens coming away with a 14-4 victory.

Coach Larry Belinsky said it has been an honor to have been a part of the graduating players’ experience at CCA and took the time to individually recognize each senior’s strengths.

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Coach Belinsky addresses his CCA seniors. Karen Billing

Belinsky said Joe Altaffer’s work ethic has set the bar high for his teammates since he joined the junior varsity team in 2015.

“I consider him to be one of the nicest all-around student-athletes I have had a pleasure to know,” said Belinsky of the talented tennis player he said is also “respectful, courteous and compassionate.”

The coach complimented Noah Kay for his perseverance in the sport, staying the course and never quitting. He said Noah’s presence exemplified the team culture that CCA so often brags about, demonstrating leadership, kindness, joy and loyalty.

Belinsky said the team was “blessed” when Jonathan Park decided to transfer over to CCA from Torrey Pines, making their program better both on and off the court.

“I will always remember and marvel at how gifted an athlete he is, his speed, power, quickness and, of course, his artistry,” Belinsky said.

The coach remarked that he has been around the Tokman family for eight years, first with Anthony and now with his younger brother Max. He said since he met Max as a freshman, he has watched him grow stronger and mature—Belinsky said he looks forward to wearing Northwestern University gear in the fall, proudly representing where Max is headed to play.

“Always a gentleman on the court and a terrific competitor, his passion has been a joy for me to watch,” Belinsky said.

For several years Belinsky said he toyed with the idea of having a team manager and this year was the year he tried it out and the experiment worked, tapping Justin Shimizu and Justin Wilkey for the job. Belinsky said he was grateful for the Justins, for helping the team prepare for practices and dual matches, for setting up the courts with score tenders, making sure the players stayed hydrated, being in charge of the score sheet, “and most importantly being positive and supportive.”

“They have been a tremendous asset to our team,” Belinsky said. “I want to thank them for their dedication, loyalty and for delivering everything I asked.”

With 28 players on the varsity squad, CCA is fielding the largest varsity tennis team the school has ever had. The playoff-bound Ravens matched up against 2017 CIF champions Torrey Pines on April 19, losing in close battle 8-10.

Belinsky hopes his team will meet the Falcons again in this year’s CIF finals.

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