by Chris Peterson
The University of La Verne men’s tennis team dropped to 1-8 on the season, as it lost back-to-back matches to Occidental College and Caltech last weekend.
La Verne was swept 7-0 by Occidental Friday and slipped, 5-2, on Saturday.
“We just made too many errors,” said senior Brian Rice after his doubles loss.
Rice and senior David Dang are the No. 1 doubles team for La Verne. After going up 2-1 early in their match, they engaged in a heated battle in game four that included trash talking, fence clearing slams and long rallies by both teams.
After ten deuces, B.J. Grant and Osman Kahn of Occidental finished off La Verne’s No. 1 pair and never looked back. They took the match, 8-2.
“We were playing well the whole first part of the match,” said Rice. “Then we just got off our game plan.”
The Leopards’ performance over the weekend could be attributed to many of the players missing practice in the last week.
“We had a lot of guys miss practice. If we don’t practice, we’re not going to play well, it shows in our performance,” said Rice.
With its game plan out of sight and their will somewhat diminished, the rest of the Leopards squad managed to win only one set in the singles portion of the meet.
That one set win came from freshman Jarrod Hesler. Playing in the No. 4 spot for the Leopards, Hesler fought a losing battle in a three set match that represented La Verne’s closest attempt at a win.
In fact, Hesler is making a habit out of playing well on a team that needs him to win on a regular basis.
So far this season, Hesler has a 5-3 record, the best on the team.
“In the past, our No. 1 and 2 guys were really good and our third, fourth and fifth were weak. We have a lot more depth this year,” said head coach Tim Fitzgerald. “He’s [Hesler] keeping us from getting skunked a lot.
“You’ll see a lot of 6-1 losses, and he is usually the ‘one,'” said Fitzgerald.
Despite singles wins by Hesler and senior teammate Sergio Velazquez, who plays in the No. 1 spot for the Leopards, La Verne could not pull off its second victory of the season against Caltech on Saturday. They lost the match, 5-2.
Velazquez won his match in a third set tiebreaker, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6, (7-4), and Hesler won in two sets, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5.
No. 2 player Dang lost his match, 4-6, 3-6. Rice lost his match, 2-6, 4-6; senior Chris Perez lost, 1-6, 0-6; and freshman Harold Arrellano lost his match, 1-6, 4-6.
La Verne took this past week off of match play and will resume tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. against Colorado College at the Blickenstaff Pavilion.
“It should be fun to play against those guys. They’re one of the top teams in the nation,” said Rice.