A thrilling 6-3, 6-4 win over Escalon talent Zach Mando lifted Riverbank ace Armando Rodriguez to the Trans-Valley League tennis singles final on April 27.
There, he fell to TVL champ Quade Archibeque of Orestimba, but still secured the second and final advancement to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III individual playoffs in Stockton on May 2 and 3.
And Rodriguez is not the only Bruin to see playoff life.
Juan Alfaro and Mago Manriquez also nabbed mixed-doubles qualification, while the entire coed program enjoyed a trek to Forest Lake Christian in beautiful Auburn on Tuesday for a shot to knock the Sierra Delta League champions out of the D-III team playoffs. The match was past press time for The News.
The Falcons host as the higher seed, but represent one of the more beatable teams in the bracket. Forest Lake was bounced 6-3 by second-seeded Summerville of the Mother Lode League last year, and fell to Pioneer Valley League No. 2 seed, Bear River, 6-1 the year prior.
Going back to 2009, Forest Lake has lost all three games in the playoffs, despite hosting as conference champion. A win over the Falcons will send Riverbank to the bracket quarterfinals against top-seeded Placer, the 2012 SJS champs.
“From my initial scouting reports we certainly can compete with (Forest Lake) and have at least a 50/50 chance to win,” Riverbank coach Bruce Edwards said. “If we go on after that, we face, most likely, powerhouse Placer.
“To beat Placer something would have to go terribly wrong for them, as they are an exceptional team like Escalon (undefeated Trans-Valley League champs).”
Riverbank scattered the rest of their lineup across the individual conference tourney. Alfaro and Manriquez secured individual advancement with a 6-2, 6-3 semifinal win over Ripon’s Bryce Coutrakis and Savannah Bickle in the mixed semifinal. The Bruin pair would fall in the bracket finals, but earned a trip to sections with their runner-up status.
Rigo Garcia and Nathaniel Martinez won an electrifying quarterfinal to reach the boys No. 2 doubles semis, but lost 6-3, 7-5 to eventual tourney champs Jorge Ayala and Kyle Kerlee of Hughson.
Brooke Rodriguez and Breanna Rodriguez also made the No. 2 girls doubles semifinals, while Ernie Velasco and Javier Baltazar did the same for boys No. 2 doubles.
Linda Erazo won a 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 dazzler in the girls singles quarterfinals, but was dispatched by Escalon sensation Parker Pilati a round later. Nick Campbell rallied through the qualifying round and bested Modesto Christian’s Sam Ho 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 in the quarterfinals, but fell victim to Orestimba’s Archibeque to miss an all-Bruin finale with Rodriguez.