The quarterfinals contest between #5 Acalanes and #4 Washington took place at the Fremont Tennis Center. It was a beautiful day for tennis and our supporters were out in numbers. All seven matches went on at the same time and it didn’t take long to realize we were competing against a very strong squad. As you can see in the scores below, we had a rough day. However, after our first six lines went down in straight sets, all team members gathered to watch our #3 doubles team squeak out a victory. Riley Bonner and James Cortez (both seniors) were in a battle. They won the first set 6-4 and had a chance to win in straight sets. Both teams got a little tight and Washington was able to win the second set in a tiebreaker. Bonner and Cortez fell behind 2-6 in the deciding super tiebreaker. They then pulled it together and reeled off 8 straight points to close it out 10-6. The Dons went out on a positive note storming the court and celebrating.
In the Championships, the top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals on Thursday. #1 Mission San Jose will play #4 Washington this Saturday at San Ramon Valley HS. #2 California (San Ramon) will also take on #3 Amador Valley, who defeated Miramonte 6-1. So yes, the DAL division was eliminated from the tournament – but not without a fight.
When I was asked last year to write these booster articles, it was suggested to me that I have a featured player of the week. This would highlight someone on the team who had a good win or did something that would be considered above and beyond the norm thus deserving special attention. I opted not to do that. This amazing tennis team that I had the pleasure and honor to coach has several stars every week. My belief is if you single one out, you take the risk of spoiling the team spirit. It was a given from the start that we win as a team and we lose as a team. Each bench player is as important to the team as the ones in the match. They stay available and ready to step in if someone is injured or sick. They warm up their comrades before matches. They cheer the loudest when their teammates need encouraging words. They help celebrate wins and console losses. These are critical dimensions of teamwork that sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
My feelings are conflicted as I write the last article of the spring season. Counting all scrimmage, practice, league, and tournament matches, we were a solid 15-5. We are the reigning DAL champions with a 9-1 record. However, in just two short seasons of coaching, I have become attached to our departing eight seniors Riley Bonner, Luke Brightbill, Aaron Brown, James Cortez, Liam Fitzpatrick, Ben Reinsberg, Zach Snyder and Tyler Toni. They are going to leave a huge hole in our line up not only from a talent perspective, but from a personality and family angle. These are tremendous shoes to fill. As we wish them nothing but success as they go off to college, I urge the others to continue working their games during the off season as they see what we’re up against when we resume next year.
Each week I send shout outs to the parents who support us no matter where we travel. They take on all roles: boosters, team moms, coordinators/hosts of functions that are critical to the team, and providing rides, snacks and drinks. This last article, I’d like to recognize Mike Toni. With Tyler graduating, he will be moving on after this year. He has been a volunteer with the program for four years as it went through the COVID period and came out last year. We have coached side by side for two seasons and his commitment to the team and its success has been unwavering. He and Velia coached/chaperoned during the Fresno fieldtrip. He has helped improve the skills of the players and we talk for long periods of time trying to best set up the lineups for success and position players for the future. He has been a great help and he is going to be missed. Thanks for everything Coach Mike.
Happy graduation seniors!! Until next season, go Dons! Coach Rick
Washington-Fremont defeated Acalanes (6-1)
Cyrus Ahmad (W) defeated #1 Tyler Toni (A) 6-2, 6-0
Arya Balakrishnan (W) defeated #2 Nick Owens (A) 6-1, 6-3
Theeran Sivakumar (W) defeated #3 Zach Snyder (A) 6-2, 6-2
Surya Balakrishnan (W) defeated #4 Diego Ledezma (A) 6-3, 6-1
Nikhil Prasad/Athish Kumar (W) defeated #1 Tucker Brewer/Ace Reeder (A) 7-5, 6-1
Ronit Kapoor/Mukul Dangi (W) defeated #2 Aaron Brown/Kaya Hoeberechts (A) 6-3, 6-1
#3 Riley Bonner/James Cortez (A) defeated Bohdi Warden/Amogh Marishetty (W) 6-4, 6-7, 10-6