Tennis team aims high for playoffs

This season, the tennis team was struck with a series of injuries that left two top players out for the majority of the season.

 

However, after a relatively successful campaign with more wins than losses, the team has entered playoffs and has won its first round against Saddleback College April 17.

 

“The tide is turning,” Pierce College tennis team’s head coach Rajeev Datt said.

 

The team is also set to play in the prestigious Ojai Tournament April 26. Datt described it as the “Wimbledon for college players,” and he expects coaches from four-year schools to recruit players from the team.

 

Though the team remains optimistic of their chances in their upcoming tournaments, they acknowledge their expectations at the beginning of the season have diminished.

 

“We had a really strong line-up,” said Datt. “I’m hoping we’re gonna finish in the top five in the state. At the beginning of season I thought we were gonna win state.”

 

The two players who sustained injuries were David Engelberg and Richard Catabona.

 

Engelberg suffered from tendonitis early in the season while Catabona suffered from an impingement in his shoulder, affecting his arm and elbow, according to Datt.

 

“Every time [Catabona] tried to hit a serve, he had immense pain to the point where he could barely hold onto the racket,” Datt said.

 

Engelberg, meanwhile, has recovered and returned to the tennis court, and the rest of the team has strived to not let the bad luck affect them.

 

Patrick Massey, also in his second year and set to play singles and doubles in Ojai, feels that although the team has been struck by bad luck, Coach Datt has trained them well and all they can do is move on.

 

“Just sticking around as a team, as a unit, we really hung in there together despite the injuries and played strong,” Cardenas said.

Besides one loss to Santa Barbara and two losses to Ventura during the season, the team has remained undefeated. Both Massey and Cardenas described a victory against Santa Barbara during a home game as a highlight of the season.

 

“The best is still yet to come,” said Cardenas. “We look forward to making some noise in the tournaments to come.”

 

The tennis team is expected to play College of the Desert April 24 for the second round of playoffs, and is set to play at the Ojai Tournament in Ojai, Calif. April 26 to 29.