After a successful victory in the first pre-season match, girls varsity tennis met its first loss during a pre-season home game with a score of 0-18 against Westridge High School on Aug. 30.
At the start of the match, the singles and doubles players repeatedly hit the balls towards the net, causing them to fall behind. The Matadors were determined to prolong the rally and strived to tire out the other team by aiming the ball to open courts for them to chase. As the match progressed, the doubles players found themselves neck to neck with their opponents, trading continuous deuces (40-40). However, the Matadors began feeling overwhelmed as the first round progressed, losing one game after another.
“I felt anxious because it was just our [second] pre-season game, and we still [hadn’t] practiced much,” junior Karina Vera said. “I just wanted to play as best as I could, but that didn’t work very well. I [could] kind of feel the pressure of having to play well and all.”
Moreover, the Matadors noticed their opponents had more experience, especially in serving and volleying. Both teams vigorously swung the ball back and forth across the court, determined to be the victor. By the end of the second round, the Tigers won 6-0 consecutively in both rounds, bringing their score to 12-0. Despite the defeat, the girls continued working with different strategies.
“I tried to look for an open court,” junior Lisa Houn said. “I tried to hit hard so they [could not] return the ball, [but] I wasn’t putting enough topspin to make the ball go in.”
Nevertheless, in the third round, sophomore Tianna Duong and her doubles partner, sophomore Leane Che were close to a triumph, scoring 4-6. Duong said that the opponents’ hits would fly farther back so she and her partner would constantly try to support each other. The two would also aim for cross-court hits to exhaust the opponents.
“We made sure to recover as soon as possible after hitting a ball that’s far left or far right just to to try and hit the next ball, but sometimes we forgot in the adrenaline rush,” Duong said. “When either of us [were] volleying we made sure to watch the ball if one were to need backup.”
Coach Steve Akiyama said he was content with how his team played, despite lacking experience and practice needed since the team was put together in less than three weeks.
“They played as well as a brand new team could play,” Akiyama said. “Like I’ve told the team, no one has given up. [These are] growing pains that a young team has to go through.”
In spite of the loss, the Matadors remain optimistic about their matches.
“We’re all human,” Duong said. “No one is perfect. Just because we lost, it doesn’t mean we should give up. We take that loss and learn from our mistakes. With practice, it doesn’t make perfection, but it does make it better.”