Riko Goto serves to his opponent on Thursday’s match. Goto is currently the no. 1 player on Saddleback College, carrying the team against Irvine Valley College. (Austin Weatherman/Lariat)
On Thursday, Saddleback College men’s tennis played against the Irvine Valley College Lasers during Thursday’s Orange Empire Conference battle. Coming off their shutout win over Cypress College, the Gauchos head into the matchup with high hopes.
IVC comes into the match with a 9-1 record, beating past opponents Saddleback has previously lost to.
With Saddleback being handicapped due to illness/injury, put up a strong six-man roster and fought hard against the defending conference champions.
“We will see how they compete today,” said Saddleback coach Bud Davis. “I’ve had half my team hurt or sick. We haven’t a full team since the beginning, I mean, my captain hasn’t even played.”
Freshman Riko Goto played in the number one spot for the Gauchos during the match, faced off with IVC’s Sam Cohen. The first set was full of powerful backhands, precise accuracy, playing the out-line like a tightrope, and excitement. Cohen edged out Goto in the first set 7-5 and took control in the second set 6-2.Co-captain Jake Stivers had a positive outlook for the day’s match ups even though he had to sit out due to injury.
“I’m really bummed I can’t play today, but this week I’m getting back on the court this weekend,” Stivers said. “Riko lost to Sam last time they played so it’s a redemption match for him.”
Saddleback’s Zuriel Aaron played in the fifth spot for the Gauchos, facing off with IVC’s Scott Paz.
“This is a tough team you know?” Aaron said. “IVC is good, but you know, our team is doing well. As long as we keep fighting, I’m proud of my team.”
Aaron lost to Paz 6-1 in both sets. Having lost the match, Aaron reflected on his performance, high lighting his strengths and areas that need more practice.
“The match went alright, I mean, I played a tough guy,” Aaron said. “I got to get more matches, more comfortable on the court, and reach a level where I can win.”
IVC went on to win six out of six singles matches and blanking Saddleback in the doubles matches winning three of three.
Saddleback heads on to face Ventura Community College tomorrow.