By Norihito Ikeda / Staff Writer
By Norihito Ikeda / Staff Writer
The Riverside City College men’s tennis team lost 5-4 in match play against Orange Empire Conference rival Saddleback on March 29, which they could never lose to tie for the first place in the conference.
The Tigers and Saddleback had a close match. The lead had changed time after time through the match.
Theo Arruda won the third singles match before Saddleback caught up and overtook the Tigers with a three match winning streak.
Ramazan Nureev and Aliaksandr Pesniak won their matches, having both teams tied at 3-3 after the singles matches were completed.
The Tigers won the first doubles match while they lost the other two. They finished 1-2 in the three doubles matches.
The Tigers went 7-2 in the conference and have a 12-6 record overall.
In the second round of the conference schedule, the Tigers have already competed with three other rivals.
In the match against Fullerton on March 27, they finished 6-0 in singles and 2-1 in doubles.
Before the match against Fullerton, Jim Elton, head coach of the men’s team, said, “I have confidence we are going to be fine, Fullerton would be an easy match.”
In the last meeting between the two teams, the Tigers shut out Fullerton 9-0 on March 6 on the road.
“Fullerton would be the opportunity for us to play,” Elton said.
Elton said he would sit a couple of higher level players down to rest them and let the other players have a chance to compete.
Jordan Gobatie, who is the No. 1 player for the Tigers, did not play in this match, despite playing in the first singles match in the Tigers’ last match against Fullerton.
“They have a good No. 1 who may give Jordan a good match. He is probably one of the top four players in the conference,” Elton said. “But besides that, they do not have the stronger players.”
In the match against Cypress, they finished 6-0 in singles and 2-1 in doubles.
The Tigers finished 4-2 in singles and 1-2 in doubles in the match against Irvine Valley.
In the first singles match, Gobatie lost the close contest with Lance Dugan.
“He got a little frustrated. He is very confident in his abilities and his level of play,” Elton said. “When he does not play at that level, he does not manage his frustrations very well.”
Gobatie’s overall record for the 2012 season is 11-4.
“I think he gets mad if it is even close. If he thinks he should be defeating his opponents, he feels like he should be demolishing them,” Elton said. “That’s something he needs to work on, his maturity.”
The scores of the second and third doubles matches were very close, and both finished 9-7.
Theo Arruda and Tavyn Libao had the early lead in the second match, leading 7-4, before the pair of Michael Sharp and Rafael Da Luz rallied back to win the doubles match for Irvine Valley, 9-7.
“We were up 7-4 and we had a lot of match points,” Elton said. “We should have won that.”
The Tigers shuffled some players in the doubles including Aliaksandr Pesniak and Alex Mares, who were in the third doubles match, playing together for the first time.
The team also switched the sides of Gobatie and Nureev in the first doubles match.
“We have been playing it the other way with Jordan on the forehand side and Ramazan on the backhand side,” Elton said. “We switched them up because Jordan has a strong backhand.”