by Jonathan Corral
In recent non-conference action, the University of La Verne men’s tennis team came away on the short end of things, losing a heartbreaker to Occidental College, 4-3, Saturday at the Nancy Blickenstaff Tennis Pavilion in La Verne.
The loss drops the Leopards’ record to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a tough stretch of tennis to be played.
The Leopards played four matches in five days this week and with the Southland’s heat wave this is no easy task.
The team has gone 1-1 on this four-match run, gaining a second win over La Sierra University, 6-1, but falling to Wabash College, 4-3.
The Leopards played Waynesburg College Thursday, but results were not available at press time.
The fourth match for the Leopards is against Colorado College at 2 p.m. tomorrow at home.
“Our record really doesn’t reflect how good our team really is,” head coach Steve Bergovoy said. “We have lost a lot of heartbreaking matches that we probably should have won, but we don’t have the depth from top to bottom.”
Currently the Leopards are seventh in the SCIAC standings and will return to conference action April 2 against Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks.
Despite their sub-par record, the Leopards still find motivation within to keep their heads up for the rest of the season.
“Even with our struggles we go out there for the love of competition,” senior Jason Cortez said. “Also for the love of the sport, we just go out there and try the best we can everyday.”
In doubles play Saturday, the No. 1 duo of Chad Rodriguez and Cortez dispatched Occidental’s tandem of Brent Baker and John Vigorita, 8-5, to start the match off on the right foot.
For their tough efforts and strong wins, Rodriguez and Cortez were both named SCIAC Male Athletes of the Week last week.
“Despite our ups and downs as a team, the guys are really closer this year than they have ever been,” Bergovoy said. “It starts with our top guys, Chad and Jason, they really help everybody really push each other no matter how bad things get.”
The No. 2 doubles team, consisting of Sunny Samuel and Josh Horwitz, followed suit for the Leopards with its 8-6 victory over Seth Brown and Michael Guice.
The final doubles match went to the Tigers pair of Nick Shapiro and Alexander Candia, 8-4, defeating Alvaro Alvarez and Kevin Nguyen.
Singles competition went in favor of the Tigers as they won four of the six matches, which propelled them to the victory.
Rodriguez handled his business defeating Baker, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, in a three-hour marathon match after completing his doubles match.
The other singles victory for the Leopards was turned in by Horwitz who defeated Vigorita in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.
Also in singles action was Samuel who was defeated in straight sets in his match with Brown, 6-2, 6-2.
In other matches Cortez fell, 6-1, 6-2, to Guice. Rounding out the match was Nguyen and Muldrow who both lost their matches to Shapiro and Sean Wong, 6-4, 6-0, and 6-3, 6-0, respectively.
“As a team we have a lot of growing to do,” Bergovoy said.
“Coming up we have a lot of out of state matches where we need to win to get our record back to .500, so some of our guys will have a shot at making it to regionals and nationals,” he said.