The Saddleback men's tennis team opened the playoffs with a 5-4 win at Ventura College on Tuesday. The Gauchos came from behind to defeat a Pirate team that had beaten them earlier in the season.
Saddleback was on the road in what was billed to be a close match on paper. It didn't disappoint, going all the way to the final match before the Gauchos pulled out a stunning win.
Saddleback lost 6-3 to Ventura on March 4, losing all three doubles matches and splitting at singles. The Gauchos knew they would need a better effort at doubles on Tuesday and got just what they needed, winning 2-of-3 matches before heading to singles play.
Riku Goto and Jeffrey Gelman opened the day with an 8-5 win at No. 1 singles to get Saddleback off on good footing. Tyler Bloom and David Gustafson ended doubles play with an 8-5 win at No. 3 doubles, sending a message to the Pirates that they didn't make a two-hour trip to the coast, just to lay down.
After winning at No. 1 singles, Ventura tied the match at 2-2 with a number of close matches remaining. Goto then gave Saddleback a 3-2 lead when he defeated Augustin Lestelle at No. 2 singles, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Things got tense as Ventura took a 4-3 lead, winning on courts three and four and winning the opening set on court six. The Gauchos tied the match with a dominating performance on court five as Michael Park streaked past Rodrigo Perdigao, 6-1, 6-1.
Down a set on court six, Andrew Tran then rallied for a 6-1 win in set two against Damon Mitchell, setting up a third set for all the marbles. He wasted no time breaking Mitchell to take a 2-1 lead in the set, and cruised to a 6-2 win.
Saddleback (14-7) now advances to the regional semifinals where they will face top-seeded Irvine Valley (16-0) next Tuesday. The Gauchos are 0-2 against the Lasers this season, losing 9-0 and 7-2.
Before playing at IVC, Saddleback will host the conference tournament this Thursday through Saturday.
1. Riku Goto & Jeffrey Gelman (SC) def. Bill Whitaker & Cruz Thayne (VC) 8-5
2. Augustine Lestelle & Damon Mitchel (VC) def. Michael Park & Andrew Tran (SC) 8-2
3. Tyler Bloom & David Gustafson (SC) def. Rodrigo Perdigao & Hamilton Walker (VC) 8-5
1. Bill Whitaker (VC) def. Jeffrey Gelman (SC) 6-1, 6-4
2. Riku Goto (SC) def. Augustine Lestelle (VC) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
3. Manu Rowe (VC) def. Kris Harris (SC) 6-2, 6-4
4. Cruz Thayne (VC) def. Tyler Bloom (SC) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
5. Michael Park (SC) def. Rodrigo Perdigao (VC) 6-1, 6-1
6. Andrew Tran (SC) def. Damon Mitchell (VC) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2