East Ridge boys tennis: Raptors take down rival RoyalsLast week, the East Ridge boys tennis team beat rival Woodbury to wrap-up a week of wins.
By: Teresa Townsend, Woodbury Bulletin
Last week, the East Ridge boys tennis team beat rival Woodbury to wrap-up a week of wins. The Raptors handily defeated Suburban East Conference opponents Stillwater and White Bear Lake earlier in the week, leading up to their match against SEC and intra-district rival Woodbury on April 19. The match marked the achievement of one of the Raptors’ season goals – to beat Woodbury.
The tense 4-3 battle helped keep the teams’ rivalry alive. East Ridge wins came from Senior Colton Mog, freshman Vishaal Gupta, and doubles teams Senior Warren Tropezado and sophomore Greg Sharrow, and sophomores Phillip Cai and Aaron Christenson.
No. 1 doubles team Sharrow and Tropezado trailed Woodbury for most of the tight first set before winning it in a tiebreaker. With renewed momentum the pair cruised to a 6-1 victory in the second.
No. 3 singles player Gupta took charge of his match after opponent sophomore Joey Shubert attempted to end points at the net. Gupta responded and lobbed his way to a 6-2, 6-0 victory.
Cai and Christenson garnered a convincing 6-1, 6-1 victory at third doubles. Eighth-grader Nikhil Gupta suffered his first loss of the season in a close battle against the Royals’ Michael Chu. Their lengthy games caught the attention of coach Suzie Heideman.
“Their points lasted forever! The first game in the second set took longer to finish than Vishaal and Joey’s entire second set,” she said.
But the fourth, and winning, team point made up for the loss. After controlling his first set, Mog rebounded from a 2-3 deficit in the second to win 6-4 at No. 2 singles.
The victory against Woodbury capped off a week of wins against SEC opponents. On Monday East Ridge defeated Stillwater 5-2. No. 1 doubles Mog and sophomore Zach Nigatu won a quick 6-0, 6-0 match.
Patient, consistent play helped Vishaal and Nikhil Gupta secure wins at third and fourth singles.
“We were up 3-2 and needed one more point,” said Heideman. “It came down to number two and number three doubles. Both ended up winning which made it extra sweet.”
East Ridge found another 5-2 win on Tuesday, this time at home against White Bear. Second, third and fourth singles won convincingly in two-set matches. No. 2 doubles freshman Riley Pratt and seventh-grader Ben Van der Sman controlled their first set and won the match after going 6-4 in the second.
The Raptors’ only two losses came from close three-setters.
“Zach played a tough match at number one singles. [He] won the first set 6-2, and then his opponent, Quinn Combs, started hitting some amazing shots! It went to three sets and Zach came up short,” said Heideman.
The Raptors received a well-earned rest when inclement weather cancelled Saturday’s triangular tournament with Hudson and New Life Academy. East Ridge played Cretin-Derham Hall on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press and will play at Forest Lake on Thursday at 3:30.