Rockets establish themselves as rightful D1 team amid concern for season prospects

Hoping to gain redemption for last year’s close loss, the RM boys varsity tennis team headed over to Walter Johnson High School on Saturday to face off against the B-CC Barons. Despite being down early in many key matches, the boys managed to persevere and pull off a hard fought 5-2 victory, boosting them to a 2-0 overall record.  Buoyed by their win, they will try to carry this momentum into their Monday match against the top ranked Churchill Bulldogs.

With last years’ stinging loss still in the back of their minds, the team headed into the game determined to fight for the victory. However, more than anyone, Coach Fahrner felt that there was something left to prove. “They’re mad at us because last year they won, but they still got knocked down,” he said. “We need to go out there and show them who’s boss, we need to show them that we belong and they don’t.”

At first, it wasn’t looking so good for the team. Despite two quick beatdowns, 6-2 6-1 and 6-3 6-2, for first singles sophomore Justin Song and fourth singles freshman Michael Pan, second and third doubles both lost their matches 5-7 1-6 and 2-6 6-4 3-6, respectively.

Soon, it became clear that the victor would be decided by three key matches: second singles, third singles, and first doubles.

Despite dropping the first set in devastating fashion, second singles sophomore Matthew Kleiman managed to rally back in the second and third sets to earn a 2-6 6-4 6-2 win. “I played really bad at first,” recalled Kleiman. “But the support from my teammates motivated me to step it up and fight back.”

Third singles freshman Jason Yu too was able to overcome a mid-match slump to pull out a tight 6-1 1-6 7-5 victory. “I played really good in the first set, but lost focus in the second and third sets,” admitted Yu. “Towards the end coach stepped in to talk me through it and I managed to regain my composure.”

However, the most exciting game of the day was undoubtedly the three hour long marathon played by first doubles, juniors Shoham Ghosh and Ethan Do. Splitting the first two sets 6-7 and 6-4, the players entered the deciding set with the entirety of both teams around the fences.

With almost every rally going above eight shots, each point win would often elicit raucous cheers from the respective winning team. Soon, riding off the momentum gained from the second set, Ghosh and Do went up an early break in the final set. Holding every one of their remaining service games, they clinched a third set victory 6-4 and an overall 5-2 win for RM.

Although the team is happy with their play against B-CC, they also realize that there is more to come and that looking ahead is often more important than focusing on the past. “We played good today,” reflected Ghosh, “but I’m more concerned about Churchill. They were number one last year and likely will be this year too.”

Heading into possibly their toughest game of the season, the boys will hope to produce another top notch performance against the best team in the county on Monday.

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