Boys’ tennis falls to powerful Bells in CCS

May 29, 2019 — by Andrew Lee

As junior Ronit Pattanayak, No. 3 singles tennis player, walked off the court on May 6, the opportunity for victory over Bellarmine was already gone. All remaining singles and doubles teams had lost except for No. 2 doubles team. But even then Pattanayak didn’t sense the taste of sour defeat; everyone had given it their all.

As it turned out, the Falcons were swept by Bellarmine  7-0, bringing the team’s CCS journey to a halt. But with a 10-2 season record the team felt satisfied with its performance in the league this year.

Despite the fact that the team had improved dramatically from their last season when they finished with a 13-6 league record, the team landed seventh seed in the bracket compared to sixth seed in the season prior for CCS. The seeding automatically advanced the Falcons to the second round, where they secured a solid victory over Palo Alto with the score of 5-2 on May 3.

The victory was short lived, though; advancement off the second round meant a faceoff against Bellarmine, historically one of the strongest high school athletic competitors in the Bay Area. With their near undefeatable lineup with athletes such as freshman John Kim, who is ranked second in the state and ninth nationally for boys’ junior tennis, and sophomore Luke Casper, who is ranked third in the state and fifth nationally, the Falcons were overmatched.

As a result, many players felt discouraged before the match had even begun. Along with this slightly negative mindset, No. 1 singles player senior Derek Pinai had been suffering from a light fever from the start of the match, further hurting their chances.

“[The loss] was mainly because the players weren’t themselves,” Pattanayak said. “Some of us got frustrated and didn’t play like how we normally would, and that’s how we lost a few games in the beginning.”

Pattanayak believes that the team let their opponents frustrate them at first, but after a few games the players started focusing more on playing as they became more comfortable with competing. He also believes that in order to do better next year, the team needs to make some changes in the way they practice.

Also, singles players sophomore Stefan Meier and freshman Anthony Zheng were unable to participate in the match due to conflicting schedules with AP Chinese testing.

Bellarmine advanced to meet Menlo in the finals like last year, coming out victorious and securing the CCS championship.

But the lack of confidence leading up to the match with Bellarmine was unexpected; the Falcons felt as if this year’s seasons was one of the strongest and most hopeful that it has had in the past several years.

With the introduction and growth of players such as freshman No. 1 doubles player Benjamin Bray and freshman No. 4 singles player Zheng, the new blood of the team exceeded expectations and look to be especially promising in coming years.

“Even though we are losing some seniors, I believe that the underclassmen are capable and will do well next year,” No. 3 doubles player junior Alexander Pan said.

One aspect that the team hopes to further improve is their consistency and intensity at practices, which players feel could go a long way in bringing the team further in future CCS tournaments. Practices, though mandatory and supervised by coach Florin Marica, felt light-hearted at times.

“I think the team can improve on doubles and focusing because we goof off [during practices],” said No. 3 doubles sophomore Daniel Izrailevsky. “Then sometimes it’s kind of too late — we don’t focus enough from the start.”

Hoping to reflect this new fervor at practices on the court, the boys’ tennis team is looking forward to another solid season, prospectively a more successful one with the addition of newer players.

“As long as all the players on the team continue to practice consistently off-season, I don’t see why we shouldn’t improve a lot more,” Pattanayak said. “I’m really excited to see how much farther we can get next year, everything looks super promising.”