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The Wildcat Tribune

Men’s Tennis qualifies for NCS at match against Amador Valley

Armaan Rashid and Arul Kirubakaran

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Despite a seemingly decisive 6-3 win, the Men’s Tennis team’s home victory over the Amador Valley Dons on Apr. 20, which qualified them for NCS championships, was not as clear cut as the numbers would suggest.

“It was a very tough matchup,” said Men’s Tennis Coach Akshay Arora. “The scores don’t signify anything — it was a very close match.”

Indeed, the Wildcats’ performance was oddly double-edged — some team members excelled, while others seemed to struggle to an equal degree.

On the former end was senior Kevin Ma, whose first-rank singles match against Amador’s Rohan Kota was nothing short of destructive as he swept both of his sets 6-0.

Ma hit the ground running with aggressive serves that kept Kota on his toes. He garnered the first match point of the set almost instantly, despite some fault serves, hitting a near-perfect game through to the first four match points.

There was similarly blistering aggression and speed between the two competitors, but what gave Ma the advantage was his superior control. Both most frequently resorted to lobbing high and deep, with great power — but where Kota failed to keep his in bounds, Ma succeeded.

As JV Men’s Tennis captain Evan Cho commented, “Kevin’s control over the court is amazing.”

But that same control wavered as Kota was occasionally able to shorten the range of the distance game the two played. When Kota opted for a soft drop shot during the fifth match of the first set, Ma was caught off guard — he was able to sprint up quickly enough, but for a haphazard volley that went out of bounds.

However, Kota largely failed to rein in Ma’s high range and power enough to successfully work a shorter range against him. Ma took the first set quickly, and immediately set off a furious rally to greet the second one.

The ball flitted ceaselessly between the two players in a series of both deep shots and volleys, and they seemed to be on even footing — until Kota’s control lapsed, and he hit the net.

From then on, Ma quickly racked up match points as Kota struggled somewhat, even once receiving one of Ma’s shots by hitting it up and behind him into the air.

In the sixth and final match of the set, another overpowered volley was a false step for Ma — but he quickly sealed his victory over Kota with a pair of precise, twitch volleys that easily penetrated Kota’s defenses.

Ma was supremely confident after the matchup, citing no struggles or stumbling blocks in his matchup against Kota.

“I feel good. No hesitation.”

But where Ma exemplified the matchups which effortlessly succeeded, there was another side to the game.

The doubles matches proved themselves to be the defining moments of the game; hard fought, hard won, and hard losses. Players Nathan Eng and Rohan Vaidya found themselves together for the first time in intense and chaotic struggle against Amador. Dougherty opened with a furious arching serve, to be responded by a deft feint  from Amador. As the match carried on, Eng and Vaidya found chemistry between them, seeking out a counter to Amador’s onslaught. A swipe from Vaidya sent the parrot-colored ball of fuzz streaking at the foot of [one of the Amador players], making contact with a loud “puck” and Dougherty applause from the sides. As the minutes waned, the pace only intensified, with shots growing wilder and lower. Eventually this culminated in a spurt of energy that found form in a rally. Eng and Vaidya wove in and out between each other, returning shots frantically,  as the court filled with the sound of screeching heels.  Dougherty and Amador both found a focus treading the net. Shots often skirted the boundary, forcing players to dive lower and lower to meet each other’s attacks.

Ultimately, the alternate struggles and successes of Men’s Tennis won them yet another victory, qualifying them for the North Coast Section championships in May.

Team Captain Shawn Jiang is optimistic for the team’s future. “We’ve been conditioning really hard … from here on out, we’re just gonna take it one step at a time, until we reclaim our NCS title.”

Coach Arora notes that, given their team’s high reputation, there’s pressure on the team to do well.

But he’s unfettered by the team’s supposed prestige and skill. As this deceptively close victory showed, in his eyes, “We still have a long way to go.”

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The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.
Men’s Tennis qualifies for NCS at match against Amador Valley