Saddleback women’s tennis clinches third consecutive OEC title

Leif Kemp

On a scorching afternoon, both the Saddleback College men’s and women’s tennis teams came away with matching 5-4 victories over interdistrict rival Irvine Valley College last Thursday. While the men snapped a two-match winless streak to remain in the playoff hunt, the women’s team remained undefeated on the year, and clinched the Orange Empire Conference title in the process.

The Gaucho’s women’s team replicated their 5-4 victory earned earlier this month against the Lasers, and in turn kept their 29-match winning streak alive. With temperatures registering in the mid-90’s on the courts, IVC kept the match close by winning the No.s 1 and 2 singles as well as doubles matches, Saddleback once again proved to be the deeper and more superior team.

The Gauchos clinched the women’s match when Keyt O’Neil, the only double winner of the day for the women, teamed with Lauren Fetter to defeat their IVC counterparts 8-3 in a match that was never in doubt. O’Neil was victorious in her No. 6 singles match as well, winning 6-0, 6-4. The match was delayed fifteen minutes when IVC’s Mackenzie Shulter had a difficult time breathing.

“I had a hard time staying warmed up, inspite of the heat. That break was tough, but she had like five or six double faults after the break. It got to be kinda frustrating.”, O’Neil said after the match.

The victory improves the defending state champions to 11-0 overall, and 9-0 in OEC play. Saddleback takes on Santa Monica College tomorrow on the Gauchos home courts in a battle of unbeatens in a rematch of last year’s state finals.The match was originally scheduled for earlier this month, but the nets on the Saddleback tennis courts needed to be repaired. Matches begin at 2:00 p.m.

Meanwhile on the men’s side, the brothers combination of Omeed and Eemaun Latifi scored an 8-3 victory in No. 3 doubles to secure the Saddleback team win. The Gaucho’s men had multiple double winners on the afternoon. Sina Sharifi took his No. 3 singles match 6-1,6-4, and teamate Jake Bernard earned a victory in the No. 4 slot 6-3, 6-1 before the duo combined to win their No. 1 doubles match 8-6.

Omeed Latifi was the other double winner for the Gauchos crushing his opponent 6-1,6-1.

The Gauchos improve to 8-6 overall, and 4-5 in Orange Empire Conference competition.

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