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Tennis team finishes season with strength

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By Mike Meraz

Vanessa Soto (front) and Heather Nason stand ready against Fullerton on April 10. (Khai Le)

By Mike Meraz

Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams of Riverside City College concluded their dual meet seasons the way they wanted to: with victories.

The men’s team concluded their season with a 7-2 victory over Fullerton in an Orange Empire conference match up. With a victory over Fullerton, the men’s team secured a second place finish in the Orange Empire conference, and received a spot in the regional playoffs as well.

The team also closed out the regular season with an impressive 19-4 record (10-2 in conference play).

The women’s team also concluded their season in the same manner, with an 8-1 victory over Fullerton. The women’s team also finished second within the conference with a 14-3 record (7-3 in conference play).

Both team’s hard work throughout the season has paid off, earning them both the fourth seed in the Southern California playoffs.

The men’s team has earned many individual honors throughout the season as well. Flavio Rueda, ranked third in the conference, has earned all conference honors and will compete in the regional singles event in San Diego on May 3-5 alongside teammates Rashad Khamis and Mitchell Grajeda.

Also competing in the regional qualifiers will be the all-conference doubles teams of Flavio Rueda and Rashad Khamas (ranked second in the conference), Clint Walder and Mark Carillo (ranked third in the conference), and Mitchell Grajeda and Chris Leam (fifth in conference).

The women’s team has earned similar honors. All-star Anabel Sanchez is ranked first in the conference, has been awarded all conference honors, as well as the Co-Most Valuable Player of the league. She will be competing in the singles regional qualifier in Victorville May 3-5.

“I’m excited and ready for the competition,” Sanchez said. “I’ve got to be on top of my game and ready for anything.”

Sanchez, who has been playing tennis since she was 15, is finishing up her second season at RCC. She has received calls from schools such as Cal Poly Pomona, and hopes to transfer in the fall and continue playing tennis.

“It’s been really fun here,” she said. “I just want to thank my teammates and coaches for making it as fun as possible.”

Sanchez paired with Krista Aja, creating a strong combination on the doubles courts (third in conference). The pair will be competing in the regional tournament as well. Heather Nason and Vanessa Soto will also be making the trip to the regional qualifiers.

In the team playoffs, held on April 24, both the women’s and men’s team advanced to the semi-final conference round. The men’s team dominated and will advance to play College of the Desert on May 1 at Ironwood, while the women’s team blew past Rio Hondo at home behind the strong doubles play of Anabel Sanchez and Krista Aja. The women’s team will face off against Orangecrest on May 1.

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