By Melvyn Rivas
By Melvyn Rivas
Saddleback was no competition for the Riverside City College Tigers, as they won all nine of their matches with powerful groundstrokes, which kept Saddleback off-balance and on the run.
Riverside cruised through all six of their singles matches and all three of their doubles matches.
Lead by last year’s number one player in the state, Daniel Coelho; and last year’s number three player in the state Yair Banuelos the Tigers came out victorious.
Coelho and Banuelos took the day off from singles matches, but teamed up in a doubles match against Saddleback’s Blake Emery and Charlie Hunt for the last match of the day.
Both Coelho and Banuelos came out strong showing why they were last year’s number one and number three ranked players in the state.
Emery and Hunt were no contest for Riverside’s dynamic duo with their powerful serves and superior hitting; they fell short every time.
Banuelos sealed the victory with a sharp backhand winner down the line, in just under an hour-and-a-half in front of the loud home crowd.
There was also excitement from the rest of the team who had some key wins to help the Tigers stay undefeated in conference.
Riverside’s Diego Miranda beat Saddleback’s Blake Emery 6-1, 6-3.
Then Riverside’s Camilo Almeida beat Saddleback’s Charlie Hunt 4-6,7-6, 6-1.
Afterward, RCC Coach Jim Elton was asked if he feels any pressure on himself or the team to continue being undefeated in conference for the remainder of the season.
He said, “Yes, there is a lot of pressure on the team and me, but we have been in this situation before and we need to stay focused on what’s important; the state championship.”
When asked about how his team consists of mostly freshmen and how are they contributing to the team, he said, “I have a strong bunch of freshmen’s this year that are very talented and are ready to take the responsibilities that comes with the team.”
Finally, about his top two players Coelho and Banuelos and how they are doing this season he said, “they’re doing great right now, they’re playing like leaders for the team and I’m going to need them to stay healthy for the playoffs.”
Riverside will now travel to Ventura Community College to try to knock out the Pirates, and continue their undefeated conference schedule.
The women tennis team, which also played this week, were looking for a win against Orange Coast College.
The Tigers, despite the windy weather came out with a victory, led by freshman up and comer Nadia Khamis who won her game in straight sets.
RCC is now 7-7 overall and 4-4 in conference.
With only five games left in the season before the playoffs start, the Tigers need at least four wins to lock a playoff spot in the Orange Empire conference.
Afterwards, about the season so far, Coach Nikki Bonzoumet said, “the team is doing ok right now, despite some close losses this year.” She also added to keep in mind that they play in the toughest league around.
In reference to the team’s lack of experience, “this is a good squad this year with a lot of promise and heart, whether it’s coming an hour before practice or staying late helping each other with serves or backhands they’re always giving 200 percent.”
The Tigers now have a day off before they travel to Santa Ana and continue their run to state champions.