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Court In Session Tennis Team Ready To Do Battle In Tough TVL
A third Trans-Valley League seed in to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III co-ed tennis playoffs could give Riverbank High racketeers a lock for postseason life in 2011.

The Bruins currently sit third in the league standings (3-2), and fell by just one point to No. 2 Modesto Christian on March 22.

A win over the Crusaders on April 8 could give Riverbank an even better seed into playoffs, but regardless, the Bruins appear primed to see their first trip into extra contests since 2008 (SJS semi-final appearance).

The solid shot at playoffs is a direct result of the SJS expanding their postseason system to allow three seeds from six of the seven D-III conferences in the section.

"We have a great chance of making the playoffs this year as the top three teams move on from the league," Riverbank coach Brandon Harker said. "It looks like we will finish second or third from the halfway mark so far."

Riverbank's depth had played into some big points in matches this season, and nearly pushed the team past MC in a 4-5 thriller on March 22. The Bruins saw wins from Eric Hernandez and Armando Rodriguez in singles, but only won two of the five doubles matches (Ashley Tristao and Monica Perez, Jim Tejeda and Nick Campbell) to just miss victory.

Hernandez and Rodriguez have just two TVL losses between them (Hernandez lost to Escalon star Jack Berry), and represent a terrific 1-2 punch this season on the singles court. Hernandez was the No. 1 singles player last year, and the junior has filled the same role in 2011.

"We just want to win and be consistent," Hernandez said. "We can't underestimate anyone."

Gabriela Macedo (No. 1) and Margarita Manriquez struggled against Modesto Christian and Escalon singles players, but are 4-2 (one loss each) against the rest of the league. Macedo is 1-1 with Hughson standout, Loryn Johns.

Riverbank's doubles teams are a combined 14-11 against TVL foes this season. Savvy seniors Ashley Tristao and Monica Perez put up a good fight in a 10-6 loss to Escalon, but are an impressive 4-0 against the rest of the league.

A big collection of players on boys, girls and mixed doubles teams have seen sporadic success as well this season.

Nick Campbell and Jim Tejada, Javier Baltazar and Rigoberto Calderon, Hermelinda Soto and Celena Herandez and mixed pair Andy Erazo and Dominique Jennings all landed wins over the Huskies on April 1.

"We can compete up and down our lineup and if someone is hurt or unable to go for a day we are very capable of filling in the gaps," Harker said. "We have excellent team integrity as well.

"For tennis, players have to make the call for their opponents if the ball is in or out and our players do a good job not taking any shortcuts to win points."