East Ridge boys tennis: Raptors reach 4-0, take second at annual Royal/Raptor tourneyThe East Ridge boys tennis team placed second in the Royal/Raptor Tournament and nabbed its first Suburban East Conference win of the season last week to maintain an undefeated record.
By: Teresa Townsend, South Washington County Bulletin
The East Ridge boys tennis team placed second in the Royal/Raptor Tournament and nabbed its first Suburban East Conference win of the season last week to maintain an undefeated record. East Ridge (4-0) defeated both Irondale (3-2) and Suburban East Conference rival Park (1-1) in a week of wins that displayed the young team’s depth.
East Ridge gave a powerful performance against the eight teams that played in Saturday’s tournament. Bloomington Jefferson placed first and conference opponent Woodbury placed seventh. No. 1 singles sophomore Greg Sharrow placed sixth in his flight, No. 2 singles sophomore Zach Nigatu won the consolation championship, third singles freshman Vishaal Gupta won third place and fourth singles eighth grader Nikhil Gupta won first place in his flight.
In doubles play, the No. 1 duo of seniors Colton Mog and Warren Tropazado placed seventh, No. 2 doubles freshman Riley Pratt and seventh-grader Ben Van der Sman placed second, third doubles sophomore Phillip Cai and sophomore Aaron Christianson placed second, and fourth doubles Cormac Dolezal and Evan Lu placed second.
“All players played three good matches, and our players faced some really tough competition,” said East Ridge head coach Suzie Heideman.
Heideman credits her team’s mental toughness and teamwork for their strong start this season.
“We’re focusing on being more of a team, supporting each other when we get off the court,” she said. The competitive mentality of third doubles team Cai and senior Sayan Roy helped them pull through a third set for a victory during their match against Irondale on April 10.
“I told them that third sets generally come down to mental toughness and footwork, so they were moving their feet quite a bit, talking to each other, staying on top of it, staying focused,” said Heideman.
The Raptors worked together for a 5-2 victory against Irondale, also picking up wins from singles players Nigatu, Vishaal Gupta, Nikhil Gupta, and doubles team Mog and Tropazado.
A strong mental game continued to aid East Ridge in their victory against Park on April 12. Although the Raptors came away with a 7-0 win, three of the matches went to three sets. One singles Nigatu lost his first set 1-6, but managed to come back after winning 6-1 in the second set and 7-6 in the third. Two singles Mog finished his first set with a 6-3 lead, fell 1-6 in the second, but rallied for a 6-2 third set victory. Two doubles Pratt and Van der Sman played three close sets, losing 6-4 in the first, but winning the next two sets 6-4, 6-3.
“Everyone was excited for this match and I think the East Ridge boys were focused and mentally tough throughout the third sets. These three matches were especially exciting to watch and a bit nerve-wracking.” Heideman said.
East Ridge played Roseville (4-0) on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press and will play at Stillwater (1-2) on Thursday at 3:30.