Both the men’s and the women’s tennis teams played their season openers this week. Squaring off against nationally ranked teams, the Highlanders suffered three losses, but managed to score multiple times in some hard-fought matches.
The men’s team started their season last Thursday against Nevada, and displayed something that second-year coach Tim Downey hoped would be a key to the club this season: depth. Though Riverside was only able to win one match of the day, it is worth noting that it was one of the new faces of the team who did it. Junior player Sean Yun transferred to Riverside this year from Wright University in Ohio and started the season in style, winning an exhausting three-set match. Other new players in the singles lineup include Jack Felich, Cooper Bridge, Sean Robles and Michael Carella. Every Highlander but Yun lost their singles matchups in two sets.
Doubles did not fare any better as the Highlanders lost their two finished matches.
On Sunday, the men’s tennis team started a 10-game road trip as they faced San Diego State, whose men’s tennis team is ranked 49th in the country and includes a player who is ranked 69th overall. However, the Highlanders stepped up to the challenge and played extremely well despite losing, 5-2. Both Cooper Bridge and Calvin Ngo won their singles matches in grueling three sets, accounting for the two points Riverside scored on the day.
“Honestly, our men played fantastic, and have improved immensely over the week,” Downey said after the matches. “I am so proud of their play, and how well they competed. Our future is so bright.” Improvement was shown across the board as the number of games won in the set each pair played either stayed the same or improved, though doubles has yet to secure a victory.
Sunday was also the season opener for the women’s tennis team, who played a nationally ranked San Diego State squad. Tiffany Jue fought for a three-set victory, which was Riverside’s only score of the day as they were defeated, 6-1.
Both the men’s and the women’s teams have around a month until their first conference play, giving them plenty of time to sharpen up and improve on their winless conference records from last season. The men march on in a road trip, facing both Northern Arizona and Arizona this weekend, while the women play their home opener this Friday against Air Force.