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East Ridge boys tennis: Raptors seven-game win streak snapped by Mounds View

After three weeks of solid play, the Raptors' seven-game winning streak ended on May 9.

The Raptors picked up wins against Simley and New Life Academy, but fell short against Suburban East Conference opponents Mounds View and Hastings in all last week.

A 12-3 overall record earned East Ridge the eighth seed in the 14-team section. East Ridge played ninth seed Apple Valley at home on Tuesday to start section play, after the Bulletin went to press.

Last week, the Raptors started off strong with a win at home against Simley on May 7. Singles players sophomore Zach Nigatu and freshman Riley Pratt pulled through tough three-set matches to give their team the shut-out victory.

The team faced a more formidable opponent over the next two days, and East Ridge suffered their first loss in nearly a month against Mounds View on May 9. Rain forced the match to stretch from Tuesday into Wednesday, and the Mustangs returned to the courts with momentum on their side.

Third singles player sophomore Vishaal Gupta pulled out the only Raptor win after three sets. Rain halted the match after Gupta won his first set 6-3.

"On Wednesday his opponent played an entirely different game," East Ridge head coach Suzie Heideman said. "Vishaal lost the second set 5-7 . . . [and] was down 6-9 in the breaker and came back to win five straight points to win 11-9. That's what I love about the game of tennis. Every point is a new point, so anything can happen."

Senior Colton Mog and seventh-grader Ben Van der Sman at No. 2 doubles started their match with a 7-6 first-set win on Tuesday, but Mounds View reversed the record on day two. The Mustangs' aggressive play at the net gave them a 6-0, 6-3 victory. Eighth-grader Nikhil Gupta at fourth singles also drew his opponent to three sets, but was unable to pull out a win.

Following the loss to Mounds View, East Ridge lost its final conference match against Hastings 7-0 on May 10. Playing without three of their varsity players, the Raptors managed to keep many of the matches tight.

"We knew it was going to be tough without Zach, Vishaal, and Nikhil, but everyone responded well and played their hearts out . . . We pulled three JV boys up and they played great tennis as well," Heideman said.

Senior Warren Tropezado won his first set 7-6, but fell 5-7, 5-7 in sets two and three. Sophomore Aaron Christianson and Alex Kim won their first set 7-5, but also fell 5-7, 5-7 in the following sets.

"We've had a lot of close matches this year, and many have gone in our favor . . . This week most of the matches went to the opponents. Mounds View took control of the net in each match and that was the big difference that stood out to me," Heideman said.

East Ridge rebounded from the tough loss with a 6-1 victory against New Life Academy on May 12. "It was a great way to end our week of tough tennis and to get us ready for our sectional match versus Apple Valley on Tuesday," said Heideman.