The UC Riverside men’s tennis team played a doubleheader on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the SRC tennis courts facing off against Hope International and The University of Nevada.
The first match against Hope International was an easy victory for Riverside as they took the match 7-0. Every player won their individual match, but one stood out because of a valiant effort. In the doubles match between Cooper Bridge and Nabil Abdallah, the team was able to take an early lead, but the set would go back and forth. Hope International’s doubles team of Jayke Ancheta and Kyle Rae was actually leading 5-4 before Bridge and Abdallah were able to make a comeback and win the set 7-5.
The second match of the day was against The University of Nevada and it did not go as planned for the Highlanders. While Riverside managed to sweep the first match of the double header, they only managed to pick up two wins in the second, going down 2-5. The only victories came from singles player Gilbert Chung and doubles team Gilbert Chung and Jack Felich.
Although the Highlanders lost, Head Coach Mattias Johansson did not seem too concerned. He thought that the team played “pretty good in both matches (and) was not too bad.” The team is also missing a key player from the top of the lineup so he feels the team hasn’t been at full strength yet in this young season.
Because of this Johansson said he believes that this gives other guys a chance to develop. He said, “If somebody’s out, somebody else got to step up … It’s just a matter of finding the right spots for the right guys.” So far it looks like they haven’t quite found the perfect matches, but they still have plenty of time.
Johansson explained his philosophy as “You’ve got to play matches in order to get better” and it makes a lot of sense for this team because of its youth. There are five freshmen on this team who are just starting their collegiate careers. Making that big of a jump could take a while for them to get accustomed to, but the leadership of their older teammates could speed the process up.
The team is also had the chance to play the nation’s 10th-best team, University of Southern California on Saturday, Jan. 21, which can be viewed as a step forward seeing as USC is such a well-respected sports school. UCR fell to the Trojans 7-0, but Johansson recognizes the match as an opportunity for growth.
“When a school like SC calls you up and wants to play us it’s kind of a no-brainer. We take the loss and learn something from it … It’s a privilege to play a legendary school.”
The team plays its next match against New Mexico State on Friday, Feb. 3 in Las Vegas