Women’s tennis falls to Orange Coast

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By Tausifur Osmani 

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UPDATE: The Riverside City College women’s tennis team won two games back to back after the publication of this article, 5-4 against Cypress on March 17 and 9-0 against Imperial Valley on March 22.  

The Riverside City College women’s tennis team fell short of a victory once again after a 5-4 loss to Orange Coast College (10-1) on March 15.

Despite having issues closing out close matches, the anguish of defeat isn’t serving as a detriment to the Tigers as they continue to stress the importance of maintaining consistency and an adamant morale.

RCC head coach Nikki Bonzoumet made scouting a focal point to her coaching tactics. She said that scouting out the competition is integral prior to any tennis match in order to look for weaknesses in the opponent’s game and capitalizing on them.

Freshman RCC player Gabrielle Ante elaborated on the analysis that is conducted during their scouting sessions and shed some light as to how it helps the team acquire a familiarity to their opponent’s playing habits.

Freshman RCC player Gabrielle Ante elaborated on the analysis that is conducted during their scouting sessions and shed some light as to how it helps the team acquire a familiarity to their opponent’s playing habits.

“We look at their warm-ups and then test our own strengths and weaknesses to see what we can do as opposed to what they can do because we’re trying to get rid of that illusion of control,” Ante said.

The key strategy that the Tigers were attempting to execute was to consistently develop the technical aspect of their game in order to trump the physical prowess of their opponents by exposing the limitations of their athleticism and eventually deteriorating their mental as a result to gain an extra edge.

“There is something they can’t do about their shots, but there is something we can do about our’s,” Ante said.

As the team’s number two player on the line-up, Gabrielle Ante put in a strong outing against Orange Coast’s Karen Trinh by jumping out to an early set lead, but eventually succumbed to the physical toil of the match and lost out to a final score of (6-2), (7-5) Trinh.

OCC interim head coach Chris Ketcham sensed RCC’s tactic, but knew that making plays in accordance to a strategy was also vital to producing a win,

“It’s one thing to be able to create tactics or have a tactic, but have to be able to execute that tactic,” Ketcham said.

Bonzoumet  noted the familiar trend the Tigers have been replicating this season has been the pattern of finding themselves in a hole that they almost fight back from or jumping out to an early lead, but only to have that lead slip away at the end of a match.

“The mentality I am consistently trying to ingrain into the team is that we haven’t played a single team in our conference that we can’t beat. All our matches have been close,” Bonzoumet said.To Bonzoumet’s credit, the majority of the team’s matches have included many instances of three  setters or tie-breakers that have not gone their way. Nevertheless, Bonzoumet realizes that the team needs to work on closing out their matches instead of getting tight and losing their momentum at the twilight of a match.

Pressure situations have been a problem this season, but the coaching staff and team have been taking the appropriate methods to dealing with difficult game circumstances by emulating stressful scenarios in practice,

“The coach would have us practice with a score set back so we have that pressure in our mind and put ourselves in that situation so when we are actually playing in a match we have that feeling that we can do this,” said Tiger’s sophomore Jazmine Perez.

Perez echoed the state of the team’s morale after the loss by suggesting the team is mentally resilient and are ultimately undaunted by the disappointing result.

One of the great individual performances on display was by Tiffany Cheek who played an exceptional singles match against OCC’s  Charlie Crites. Cheek exhibited brilliant movement with the ball and set up points so that she wouldn’t be caught on the defensive which then allowed her to put balls away. Throughout the game Cheek fought through a pulled hamstring and won the match (6-4), (6-0).

RCC’s Shannon Harris also bounced back from a previous singles loss at Saddleback by wearing down OCC’s Janina Panas through nine sets until eventually Panas was forced to retire from the match after feeling sick. Therefore, Harris ultimately notched in a second point and another victory for the Tigers with a final score of (6-3) in favor of RCC.

There were many positives from the loss that the team will try to translate into a victory in the next match against Cypress. Considering the fact that the Tigers blew out Cypress in their last meeting 8-1, this may serve as the extra bit of confidence needed to gain a mental edge in order to break out of this three game skid.

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