After finishing the regular season with a 6-4 record in the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League (SMAL), the tennis team lost in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Coed Championships.
Three players went to the SMAL championships, with senior Leonardo Eisner winning boys singles and sophomores Ming Zhu and Ashwin Rohatgi placing third in boys doubles.
This was the team’s second trip to the section team championships in the last four years. According to coach Jamie Nelson, the team was seeded eighth (last) and traveled two hours on April 29 to play top seed and 2018 Division II champion Delhi.
Country Day lost all nine matches.
“A stop at In-N-Out on the way home helped us deal with the disappointment,” Nelson said.
However, senior Michaela Chen, who lost 6-2, 7-5, said she wasn’t disappointed not to advance; she was disappointed to have qualified for the section team championships in the first place.
“I was really miffed when I found out we got third out of five schools in our league,” she said. “If we had only gotten one place lower, we wouldn’t have had to travel (two hours) there and back.”
Sophomore Keshav Anand, who lost 6-0, 6-1, disagreed.
“Making playoffs was good, and we should (always) aim to win,” he said.
Freshman Tina Huang said she was also disappointed not to move on. She and freshman Vanessa Escobar lost 6-0, 6-4 after making a comeback in the second set.
“We were down 5-1 but gained three (games) because we got rid of our nerves and stopped caring about the score as much,” Huang said.
Meanwhile, Eisner attributed his 6-4, 6-2 loss against Dehli to an equipment problem.
“About halfway through warming up, my racket string broke,” he said.
Eisner used Nelson’s racket but said it wasn’t the same.
“Without your own racket, you feel like you’ve never played the sport before.”
“I hit the ball as hard as I could, but it would still come off at slower speeds than I’m used to,” he said. “Without your own racket, you feel like you’ve never played the sport before.”
Eisner said winning the league title on April 22 at Highlands High School was the “pinnacle of the season.”
This was Eisner’s second consecutive league championship.
According to Nelson, Eisner lost the first set 6-2 but had “the mental toughness” to win the second set 6-4 and finished with a “nail-biting” 10-8 victory in a match tiebreaker.
“I was down 8-6, and you have to win by two (points),” Eisner said. “I had to get four points in a row, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Eisner said he wasn’t overly disappointed by his 6-3, 6-3 loss to RJ Garcia of Orestimba in the quarterfinals of section boys singles on May 2 in Stockton.
“I cared about Sections, but I had reached my own goal at that point,” he said.
Eisner said the team needs more accountability and dedication next season.
“Figuring out who will take my spot as captain has been tough,” he said. “For every match, I had to really push each player to come.”
Eisner and Nelson agreed a larger roster would help prevent forfeits.
“We will need four additional boys on next year’s roster to field a full team,” Nelson said.
—By Sarina Rye
Originally published in the May 28 edition of the Octagon.