By Izaiah Cerratos
In a marquee matchup against an undefeated team, the Tigers lost a hard fought and emotional contest.
The Riverside City College men’s tennis team was defeated by the Irvine Valley College Lasers 5-4 on March 7.
The Tigers, 6-1 on the season, came into the matchup on a four game winning streak against a 3-0 Irvine Valley College team. Both teams showed great pace and power hitting the ball. The Lasers looked like the unbeaten team they are from the opening sets.
Irvine Valley College dominated the tempo of doubles which set the tone for the rest of the matches very early on. The Tigers took some time to catch up to the Lasers’ pace.
The losses included few unforced errors, but Irvine Valley landed some big shots that swung momentum in their favor.
After the slow start losing their first two doubles matchups against the Lasers — the duo of Anant Bhika and Austin Harvill battled back and forth in a hard fought matchup against Irvine Valley College’s Sergio Jardao and Atenis Sewer with a score of 8-6 to claim the lone duos win for the Tigers.
Carlos Rullan and Emilio Real showed up strong in the singles matches. Irvine Valley College players showed signs of frustration as RCC continued to steal sets and close the gap.
The Tigers would go on to play well in the singles matchups, bringing the overall score to 4-4 going into the final game. Irvine Valley College’s Afyan Ashgraf would close out the day beating RCC’s Enrico Recchia. The Lasers defeated the Tigers 5-4.
Once fatigue set in, mistakes were made from both sides on the court. Nathaniel Johnston, a freshman who played both doubles and singles experienced cramping late into his singles matchup.
“I was at Rolling Loud this weekend,” Johnston said. “My body is pretty fatigued right now.”
He and Noah Canoes lost a back and forth match in duos.
Harvill participated in both a doubles and a singles matchup.
“Conserve my energy, focusing on what I’m hitting every play,” Harvill said.
The matchup brought out the best in both teams, really showcasing the strengths of the players and coaches. Despite the losses in doubles, the team is confident with its pairings.
“The brothers are locked in for life,” head coach Evan Parry said. “We are confident and comfortable with our duos.”
The Tigers coaching staff knew the matchup was going to be a test for the players. The Irvine Valley College team has been a key conference game over the years.
“We’ve fought for years, they got us on this one,” Parry said. “We play these guys again at their place, looking forward to taking victory to them.”
Even with the Tigers coming up short in the match, Parry was proud of his squad.
RCC will continue the homestand with matchups against Fullerton College on March 14 and Wheaton College on March 16.