Back-to-back one-sided wins over Ripon High and Orestimba on April 16 and 19, just four days after a clutch rout of playoff-bound Modesto Christian, have all but gift-wrapped the No. 2 seed from the Trans-Valley League into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for Riverbank’s coed tennis team.
Since the Bruins are 1-1 against Modesto Christian, but beat MC by a larger margin than the Crusaders did, Riverbank has an edge on that tie breaker. The Bruins (6-3) closed the year with Hughson (2-7) on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.
“We thought we should have won the first time (Riverbank played Modesto Christian),” Bruin coach Bruce Edwards said. “I think (the MC coach) was surprised to see us beat him 6-3.”
Edwards said the Crusaders have been known to compete with a deceptive lineup that features their top player in the No. 2 position, a likely attempt to forgo an inevitable loss to Bruin ace Armando Rodriguez and be in better position to win their second singles match.
It’s a plan that worked perfectly in the first meeting between these teams, because Edwards didn’t know MC would forfeit mixed-doubles, and sent his second-best singles player (Nick Campbell) to ultimately sit out the coed forfeit.
Edwards was more wary in the second meeting, and watched Campbell land the key No. 2 win in singles while Rodriguez rolled MC’s second-best singles player 6-0, 6-1.
Edwards also promoted rising talent, Linda Erazo, who hung on to edge MC’s top girl in a tiebreaker and pick up a win the Bruins didn’t get the first time around. Gabby Macedo departed the singles court to pick up a key win at No. 1 girls doubles to give the Bruins a win in every No. 1 matchup on the court.
“We beat them at the top end, which means we are a better team,” Edwards said. “There is a strategy to move players around, and coaches can do that all they want without doing anything wrong, but what I try to do in every match is put our best against their best and never play a match to lose it.”
Riverbank went on to shut out Ripon (both teams were 4-3 to start the match) after Rodriguez, Campbell, Erazo and Macedo rolled to singles wins. Ernie Velasco and Javier Baltazar joined the upstart talent of freshmen Nathanial Martinez and Rigo Garcia to handily win boys doubles while Caroline Schauf/Bae Di loro and Breanna Rodriguez/Brooke Rodriguez did the same for girls doubles. Mago Manriquez and Juan Alfaro cruised to an easy mixed doubles win.
“I think they have improved on every aspect of the game, but the biggest thing has been their communication skills in doubles,” Edwards said. “They have also really improved their volley skills.”