Transitioning to a new league was not necessarily an easy task for the Patterson High boys tennis program this spring, but following a 3-1 start to the season in the Central California Conference, the idea of securing a top-three finish in the league and a playoff spot began to crystallize in the minds of the tennis squad.

“Going to a new conference was going to be more challenging, but the boys worked and played hard,” head coach Raustand Nzoule said. “Most of them are sophomores. To show up and do as well as we did is great.”

Patterson’s only losses came to first- and second-place El Capitan and Merced High this spring, yielding the team a 10-4 finish overall.

Heading into Tuesday’s match with Central Valley, a playoff spot was anything but a sure thing. The Hawks trailed the Tigers in the standings throughout the season, and were positioned to swoop in and clasp the third playoff spot from Patterson on April 16 if they won under certain conditions.

The playoff scenario between the two squads boiled down to how the final match of the season went. Central Valley not only needed to win, but needed a commanding 7-2 or better victory in order to overtake Patterson in the standings. Any other result would mean Patterson would retain their third-place position due to tiebreaker rules, and advance to the playoffs that begin on April 29.

Patterson did not leave it up to chance, and defeated Central Valley 8-1 as a team to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Tigers celebrating senior night made the playoff berth all the more special and festive.

Nzoule admitted he didn’t share all the details as to what was needed to advance to the playoffs, and just told his team to play their best.

“I didn’t tell them because I didn’t want to put pressure,” Nzoule said. “I think the fact that it was senior night and their families were here made it so they wanted to play well.”

Indeed they did, only dropping one match to the Hawks.

Number one singles player senior Chris Tapia ended his regular season on a high note, defeating Juan Zaragoza 7-6 and 8-6.

Senior Logan Davis recorded the only loss for the Tigers. He dropped his match to Rogelio Perez 2-6 and 1-6.

Senior Lolyn Tejeda had little trouble defeating Alexsander Kishore 6-1 in both sets.

Senior Jonathan Trans was victorious over Adrian Gomez 6-4 and 6-2.

Senior David Prado-Bustos and Omar Lepe were engaged in a long match, but Prado-Bustos came out on top winning 6-4 and 7-6.

Freshman Diego Herrera finished his season with a win over Andy Souksavath 6-2 and 6-3.

The doubles duo of sophomores Jesus Torres and Jiovani Galvez won 6-1 and 7-5 over Edman Vargas and Lourdvic Polanes.

Number two doubles partners of senior Jaret Hartsell and sophomore Antonio Briseno defeated Belisario Ramirez and Gurtej Sangha 7-6 and 7-6.

Sophomore Miguel Prado and senior Alex Linares won the final match of the day over Willy Souksavath and Aaron Madrigal 6-4 and 6-1.

The team playoffs are scheduled to begin on April 29. Patterson is not yet aware of who they will play.

The Central California Conference singles tournament was held on Wednesday after press time. Nzoule shared he would take his top two singles players (Tapia and Davis) to the tournament. Depending on the results of the singles tournament, Nzoule hoped to enlist his best two players to play the CCC doubles tournament on Thursday.

Patterson honored seven players in total on senior night, with food and a gift basket as part of the festivities. Those seniors were: Jarett Hartsell, Logan Davis, Jonathan Trans, David Prado-Bustos, Alex Linares, Chris Tapia and Lolyn Tejeda.

PI sports writer

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