Tough losses for Knights at Ojai Tournament

Michael Markulin

City College’s men and women tennis teams competed at the grueling Ojai Tournament in Oaji, Calif., but didn’t do as well as expected.

Players from all over California competed in the tournament for the community college state championship, taking to the courts on their final matches of the 2016 season.

The first round of matches got under way early on April 21.

The Lady Knights were each eliminated after their first round of play.

“Unfortunately, the girls fought hard today, but we ended up losing all of the singles and doubles in the first round at Ojai,” said Jami Jones, head coach or the Lady Knights. “I am proud of them for all qualifying to get here and for having an excellent season.”

Star freshman Palia Griffin had a rough match, dropping two straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, to Amberley Huang from Mount San Antonio College.

Griffin explained how tough of a day it was for the Lady Knights.

“If I’m correct, all the girls in the first round of singles ended up playing teams we’ve never encountered.”

Both Lady Knights doubles teams struggled.

Melissa Gomez and Brianna Leigh-Pink exchanged strokes with El Camino College’s Natsuki Hoshiko and Jade Shugars, but were defeated after two straight sets, 6-1, 6-0.

The same happened when Karen Lopo and Carolina Herrera-Najar took on Rio Hondo College’s Delia Hidalgo and Nicole Robbins and were eliminated from the tournament after losing, 6-1, 6-2.

The easiest advancement of the day came from City College freshman Patrick Meier, who won the first set against Arin Meserkhani, 6-0. During the second set, Meier’s opponent retired from play due to illness. The next round was not as easy as Meier was eliminated in two straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, by Sean Alves of Folsom Lake College.

Dale Gutierrez got the Knights going in the right direction as he advanced to the second round defeating Nathan J. Saragoza, 7-6, 6-4. During the next round, Gutierrez fell short, 6-2, 6-0, to Sasha Krasnov of Cerritos College.

City College sophomores Gutierrez and Logan Rinder had a bye in the first round of the doubles tournament which automatically advanced them to the next round of play.

They squared off against Joseph Greco and Ken Lim of Foothill College during their next round. The match didn’t last too long as Gutierrez and Rinder smashed their opponents 6-2, 6-1.

With the victory, the Knights men moved on to the third round of play, with only 32 doubles teams out of 80 remaining.

On the second day of the tournament, Gutierrez and Rinder laced up against Saddleback College’s Riku Goto and Mike Park. Goto and Park were ranked number seven at the Ojai and showed their skill. Gutierrez and Rinder fought with all they had but were over-matched. It was the end of their tournament, as well as the Knights’ season, with the final score 6-1, 6-3.

Men’s head coach, Brandon Lupian, and women’s head coach, Jones, are looking forward to next year. Meier and Griffin are among the players who plan to return next year.

“We will continue to build our team for the 2017 season!,” said Jones.