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Bruin Racketeers End Season In SJS Playoffs
It was only fitting that after a tremendous regular season, Riverbank High's coed tennis program saved a little something extra for the playoffs.

The Bruins looked spectacular during a 5-4 postseason defeat to Colfax of the prestigious Pioneer Valley League on April 30. Three days later, Bruin doubles dream team Eric Hernandez and Armando Rodriguez were the stars of an individual bracket in Stockton, where they went 1-1 with a pair of thrilling matches.

"This team performed as well or better than expected based upon their experience and team depth," Riverbank coach Bruce Edwards said. "I feel Danny Geren (assistant coach) and I can be feeling pretty good about the progress of the team with the time we had. The team became a solid unit by mid-season."

Riverbank entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the Trans-Valley League, but landed a tough draw in Colfax, a No. 3 seed from the always tough Sacramento-area PVL.

Riverbank gave Colfax coaches a scare when Rodriguez upset the Colfax No. 1 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 and Hernandez came back to beat the No. 2 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Gabby Macedo fell 4-7, 1-6, and watched girls No. 2 Linda Erazo fall 6-7(3), 4-6. Riverbank's boys doubles of Nick Campbell/Juan Alfaro and Javier Baltazar/Ernie Velasco fell 3-6, 2-6 and 1-6, 0-6 respectively to standout Colfax combinations.

Riverbank's top girls doubles team of Dominique Jennings and Mago Manriquez won 7-5, 6-1, and saw Hermilinda Soto and Caroline Schauf slip 1-6, 0-6.

Riverbank's tenacious mixed doubles team of Celena Hernandez and Rigo Calderon won 7-6(7-3), 6-1.

"They are seniors and have more experience," Edwards said. "(They) were able to take control of the second set in a rather emotional match as it was their last one of the year.

"We gave (Colfax) a scare, but based upon the score I would say they had more depth in their doubles than us."

Eric Hernandez and Rodriguez descended onto the Division III coed individual postseason bracket with the momentum of their wins against Colfax.

After a short rain delay, the pair battled back from a 4-6 defeat to a tough Vista del Lago team with 7-6(4), 6-3 wins to reach the second round. There, Mother Lode League stalwarts from Calaveras got the upper hand in a 2-6, 6-4, 2-6 match.

"I was very impressed with the athleticism and effort of the Vista team," Edwards said. "People were watching this match instead of their own teams playing on adjacent courts because the points were so exciting.

"It was over a 2 hour match and both our boys were a little tired after all the long points and sprints on the courts, not to mention the mental fatigue. When they met Calaveras, I think they were mostly brain-tired from waiting around most of the day."

The pair arrived at Oak Park in Stockton at 9 a.m., but didn't play their first match until 1:30 p.m. and saw the second round delay to 6 p.m. because of intermittent rains.

Eric Hernandez, Calderon, Leeroy Sterling, Jennings, Celena Hernandez and Soto will all depart from the program via graduation this spring.