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Published on March 29th, 2012 | by EIC

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Boys’ tennis hopes to overcome preseason setbacks

IN ACTION: Senior Cristobal Rivera plays an opponent for Palos Verdes High School in a singles match on Tuesday, Mach 20 at Samo. (Max Gumbel/The Samohi)

Gregory Boehm
Staff writer

Boys’ tennis prepares for their upcoming league season with the hope that they will once again be contenders for the California Interscholastic Federation championship (CIF). In preparation, the players trained hard and played a few practice matches during the offseason to try to get into the competition rhythm.

“We had a few matches over preseason,” senior co-captain Chris Yuan said. “We were mainly trying to get more team bonding and connections in.”

During the offseason, many of the players did a lot of individual practicing, but the team also spent a lot of time training together on the court.

“During the offseason we drilled hard in practice to fine tune our strokes and strategy,” senior co-captain Zachary Resnick said. “We also played a lot of matches so that we got into the competitive ‘match tough’ mentality. [Offseason practice] is always helpful because everyone can improve their game and the more work we put in the better our results.”

Boys’ tennis now holds a 1-3 record for the offseason. Although the team allowed a few more losses than they wanted so far, according to senior Alan Bleiberg, these first games are some of the hardest they will play.

Despite their thorough offseason practice regimen, the team began their season on a bad foot. On Thursday, March 1, Samo played Harvard Westlake and lost 6-12.

In the second game, Samo played Brentwood in a home match. The two schools tied 9-9 in matches so the score came down to the amount of individual games. Fortunately, each player won and Samo emerged victorious with a win of 74-68. According to the Yuan, this was the first time that Samo tennis beat Brentwood in seven years.

Unfortunately, following Samo’s win, the team went on to lose their next two matches. On Monday, March 19, Samo hosted Loyola high school in a home singles and doubles match. The Samo players’ performances varied greatly. Some lost all three of their matches while others, like senior co-captain Cristobal Rivera, won all three. The match came down to a singles match between senior Peter Harding and another Loyola player to decide whether Samo would tie or lose their game. Although Harding put up a valiant effort, in the end, he lost the match 5-7.

The next day, Samo hosted another home game against Palos Verdes High School. Again, Rivera again won all three of his matches, but the team lost the match 6-12.

“[Palos Verdes] are a lot like Palm Desert High School; the team we lost to in the CIF finals last year,” Harding said. “Their doubles teams were really strong, and we need to work on being up for our tougher matches in the future.”

On a brighter note, it is still quite early in the season. As of now, Samo must practice even harder to try to gain an upper hand in their upcoming games and league season, which begins after spring break.

“We just need to keep working hard on our match toughness and execution,” Resnick said. “We have what it takes to beat the best teams but we need to just put it all together when we are on the court. We are working hard and it’s only going up from here.”

Despite these few losses, the players and coach remain hopeful about their chances of making it to CIF finals this year. According to head coach Wilston Poon, Samo is ranked in Division II, giving the team a good opportunity to make it to finals.

However, the team still has flaws to improve on  in order to ensure success in CIF.

“They lack of desire to win when they’re supposed to win and do what they’re supposed to. They all have it in them, but they just choose not to use it,” Poon said. “It’s a team effort and this is a very individual sport, so that’s the problem.”

The players at this point still remain hopeful and confident that they will reach the CIF finals.

“Last year, making the CIF finals was one of the most special moments for our team,” Resnick said. “Now that we have experienced that moment, we are set on reaching the finals again this year and bringing the championship back to Samo after almost 50 years. We are capable of achieving this, but it is up to us and our effort in practice and -matches that will show how badly we want the title.”

gboehm@thesamohi.com


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